Sunday, February 2, 2003

Maybe acting IS rocket science



By Jackie Demaline
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Go figure. Joneal Joplin might just have made a pretty good rocket scientist.

As part of the prep work for Copenhagen, continuing at Ensemble Theatre through next Sunday, the company spent the afternoon of New Year's Eve sitting down with University of Cincinnati's Dr. Paul Esposito, who more or less spent a couple of hours explaining what goes on inside a nuclear reactor.

The heart of the play takes place in 1941, when great physicists and former colleagues Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, now on opposing sides in WWII, had a brief meeting of which there is no factual accounting.

Copenhagen ponders the mysteries of the human heart and mind by asking a different question: How did their meeting play into the history of the 20th century? Did Heisenberg know the secret of the atom bomb?

In the fourth floor rehearsal room, the walls were covered in a time line from 1930 to 1949 and stacks of books were piled on the conference table.

The company talked causality, Einstein and nuclear glue. They talked matrix vs. wave and angular momentum.

Dale Hodges, who plays Bohr's wife, had many questions and listened to the answers with furrowed brow. It sounded to her like the whole thing was a question of putting ingredients together like the recipe for a cake and that couldn't be right.

Well, yes, Esposito told her, that's kind of it.

Greg Thornton, as Heisenberg, took furious notes and hypothesized on the semantic argument of indeterminability.

Director Ed Stern pondered quantum theory. "You mean he developed this based on thin air? Smart guy."

Joplin nodded knowingly throughout and explained where plutonium comes from.

What about the Jop-as-Rocketman theory?

Stern scoffs. "He was acting."

Ensemble Theatre box office: 421-3555.




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