The Play Is The Thing

Fittingly, given that gold is the traditional 50th-anniversary gift, American Conservatory Theater is marking its 50th anniversary with a new Tom Stoppard play. (Sir Tom is the gold standard when it comes to modern-day dramatists, after all.) Tackling such topics as “sex, science, and supercomputing,” The Hard Problem, Stoppard’s first new full-length play in nearly 10 years, is very much in tune with today’s San Francisco, and America. The title refers to philosopher David Chalmers’ formulation of what he called the “hard problem of consciousness”: How do we separate out the subjective from what we actually perceive? Or, in the words of one reviewer, “how can you tell the brain from the mind?” And when you mix AI and machine learning, the answer retreats even further. Still, anyone who’s seen Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, The Real Thing, or Arcadia will have high hopes for whatever excursion Stoppard next creates for our minds. Or brains. Whatever.

At the Krohl Institute of Brain Science, Hilary (Brenda Meaney) meets her competition Amal (Vandit Bhatt), a mathematician and biophysicist, in the West Coast premiere of Tom Stoppard's The Hard Problem, playing at A.C.T.'s Geary Theater through November 13, 2016.

Hilary (Brenda Meaney) works on an experiment with Bo (Narea Kang), a mathematician, in the West Coast premiere of Tom Stoppard's The Hard Problem, playing at A.C.T.'s Geary Theater through November 13, 2016.Photos Courtesy of Kevin Berne

If you're not already a member, sign up now to start earning points toward incredible Joie de Vivre experiences and free air miles with your very next stay at one of our boutique hotels, each with its own unique brand and personality.