Hot Off the Press: Infinity

Reading plays is not only for actors who need monologues for auditions or for producers in search of their next show. It’s for theatre lovers who can’t get out to the theatre, or who’ve heard about a play that’s not being presented in their city, or who want to return to a story they loved watching unfold on stage. It’s for anyone who feels like they don’t have the time to read novels, or who skim over the long descriptions in novels to get to the dialogue. Reading plays is for anyone who likes to read.

In 2015, playwright Hannah Moscovitch won the Dora Mavor Moore’s Best New Play award for Infinity, a haunting, honest ode to the nature of time and love.

It all started when Ross Manson, artistic director of Volcano Theatre, approached Moscovitch with an idea. “He wanted me to write about time. Which isn’t even a subject. It’s…” she trails off, looking for the right words. “A structuring principle for life.”

It took Moscovitch a while to get interested in the topic. What helped, she says, was reading the work of physicist Lee Smolin, who wrote the book Time Reborn, and whose writing she called “extraordinarily poetic.”

Moscovitch is used to doing research. “I’m interested in the world,” she says, mentioning two of her other plays that allowed her to peek into realities she knew little about: What a Young Life Ought to Know, about a birth control specialist, and This Is War, about the military. “I research in order to write, [so the topic] doesn’t seem amorphous to me. Smolin helped me in that way.”

But because the concept of time was so abstract, Moscovitch did something she seldom does in her work. “It’s very rare for me to write anything that draws on my family dynamics,” she says. “I ended up reaching towards my own relationship to time.” This led to the story of Elliot, Carmen, and their daughter Sarah Jean. And Moscovtich took her research one step beyond books: Smolin became a consulting physicist on the project, to help ground the story.

“Time is a backdrop,” Moscovitch says about Infinity. “I was interested in how trauma and habit echo down the generations. How we pass on visions of the world, metaphors of the world.”

Moscovitch explores these visions through the eyes of Sarah Jean, who has grown up watching two loving (and “dysfunctional”) people—her parents—fail in a relationship.

“I’m interested in what we cannot see about ourselves,” Moscovitch says. To her, the parts of our lives we can’t evaluate clearly are related to the way we experience time. “It’s a thing we all swim in, a structuring principle, but we can’t grasp it. I felt like that was what was going on. It’s so big that [Sarah Jean] couldn’t grasp it.”

But Infinity opens with Sarah Jean having an epiphany, one about who she is and how she sees the world. She’s beginning to understand that big structural principle of life that is time.

As the story unfolds, we—the audience and readers—begin to learn too. But Infinity makes us think about more than just the concept of time. As Moscovitch says, the play “calls into question whether love is real.”

About the Play

Sarah Jean is an intelligent mathematics student who finds safety in numbers, in the reliability of their defined nature. Her affinity for unhealthy relationships, however, remains a complete mystery. Her flings turn into year-long relationships against her better judgment and her confusing emotional patterns are only now coming to light. It’s time for Sarah Jean to make sense of her past in terms she understands and to discover there is more to time than just its inevitable passing.

Elliot is a theoretical physicist who spends most of his time thinking about time, and how to unify all physics. So when he meets Carmen, a violinist, the two bond over talks about music and theory. Talks that lead them into bed and into a marriage that should and shouldn’t be. As their relationship teeters through time, work and family become a balancing act, and theories are thrown to the stars revealing truths they’re not ready to face.

About the Playwright

Hannah Moscovitch is the author of East of Berlin, Little One & Other Plays, The Russian Play & Other Short Works, This Is War, and several other works. She has written for TV and radio, and was a contributing writer to the CBC Radio drama series Afghanada for five years. Hannah has won multiple awards for her work, was the first Canadian woman and Canadian playwright to win the prestigious Windham-Campbell Award and the first playwright to ever win the Trillium Book Award. She lives in Halifax.

$17.95 | 96 pages

Infinity was first co-produced by Volcano Theatre and Tarragon Theatre, and premiered in March 2015 at Tarragon Theatre in Toronto.

To purchase Infinity, click here

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May is the co-founder and former co-editor-in-chief of Intermission. She edits everything from memoirs to cookbooks, loves maple syrup and boy bands, and is a pretty good first baseman.