East Coast Premiere: “Ether Dome”
The fall theatre season kicks off regionally with a premiere at Hartford Stage, which spent the summer being renovated, and new seats will greet theatregoers this month.
In 1846, the history of world medicine changed forever, when a Hartford dentist, Dr. Horace Wells (1815-1848), discovered that nitrous oxide (laughing gas) could be used as an anesthetic, thus making all kinds of life-saving surgeries possible.
Wells’ story has been turned into a new play, “Ether Dome” by Elizabeth Egloff, which was commissioned by Hartford Stage’s former Artistic Director Michael Wilson (who directs), and is a co-production of Hartford Stage, Houston’s Alley Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse in California (where it just completed a run), and Boston’s Huntington Theatre (where it plays after Hartford). “Ether Dome” opens Hartford Stage’s season September 11-October 5.
Dr. Michael T. Bailin, chair of anesthesiology at Baystate Medical Center and an associate professor of anesthesiology at Tufts Medical School, says that nitrous oxide is still in use today.
“Tens of millions of people receive nitrous oxide each year. We are still using it today in the operating room on a daily basis as an adjunct to general anesthesia”, says Bailin. “Baystate Medical Center is considering using it as an adjunct to the treatment of pain during labor. When used in low concentrations, it has a euphoric affect and therefore is prone to make people laugh and that is where the laughing gas parties from a couple of hundred years ago have come from.”
In “Ether Dome”, when a new treatment promises to eradicate pain, a doctor and his student play out an epic battle between altruism and financial gain. “Ether Dome” is a psychological thriller that explores the pain that afflicts humankind, our attempts to find relief, and the beginning of healthcare as big business.
For medical historians, Ether Dome is the name of Massachusetts General Hospital’s surgical amphitheatre in the Bulfinch Building, which served as the hospital’s operating suite from 1821 to 1867. Wells’ life was tragic on many levels. He died young, addicted to chloroform (another anesthetic).
Wilson, who served as Hartford Stage’s artistic director for 13 seasons, was represented on Broadway in 2013 with the Tony Award-winning revival of Horton Foote’s “The Trip to Bountiful”. His TV film of ‘Bountiful’ was nominated lfor two Emmy Awards (Best TV Movie and Best Actress for Cicely Tyson). Wilson’s Hartford Stage productions include “Enchanted April”, which transferred to Broadway, garnering a 2003 Best Play Tony Award nomination; and the nine-hour world premiere of “The Orphans’ Home Cycle”, winner of numerous 2010 Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards.
For tickets: 860-527-5151 or www.hartfordstage.org.
Jordi Herold Speaks
Jordi Herold was the visionary behind Northampton’s Iron Horse Music Hall. In his 25 years there, bringing known and unknown musical talent to the area, he made the western Massachusetts music scene into an innovative and vibrant palette of new and exciting sounds.
He has authored, with local music journalist David Sokol, a new book, “Positively Center Street: My 25 Years at the Iron Horse Music Hall”, which will be released by Levellers Press this month.
In conjunction with the Iron Horse’s 35th Anniversary, Herold will do a reading and booksigning there on Sunday, September 14 at 7 p.m. and at Broadside Books in Northampton on Saturday, September 20 at 7:30 p.m.
For information: https://store.collectivecopies.com/store/show/Lev%20005
London Theatre Trip
The Chester Theatre Company is offering two London Theatre tours (March 7-15, 2015 and March 14-22, 2015), hosted and led by the theatre’s artistic director, Byam Stevens.
The tours include seven nights at the four star Lancaster London Hotel, five tickets to the best of London’s current theatre offerings from West End (London’s Broadway) to the National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company, and Donmar Warehouse, as selected by Stevens. Matt Wolf, theatre critic for the International Herald Tribune, will join the group to present an overwivew of London Theatre.
The Chester Theatre Company’s London theatre trips include round-trip bus to Logan International Airport from Elms College in Chicopee, and free secure parking at The Elms.
Pricing begins at $3,950 per person, double occupancy.
For a detailed itinerary, call Alexandra at Chester Theatre, 413-354-7770 or email: [email protected]
Infinity Music Hall and Bistro has brought a variety of music and comedy talents to the Litchfield Hills in Connecticut. A public television series captures some of the finest programs there. Now, they’ve opened a branch in downtown Hartford, which will feature similar programming and food. For details: http://www.infinityhall.com/Venues/Infinity-Hartford/
Keep in Mind…
***The Greater Boston Theatre Expo showcases the programs of more than 60 Greater Boston theatre companies on Tuesday, September 9 in the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts (539 TremontStreet, Boston) The public is invited to attend the free event held from 5:30-8:30 p.m. to meet representatives and artists from the region’s fringe, small, mid-sized, and large theatre companies, to get information about upcoming productions, and to take advantage of Expo-only ticket offers and giveaways. For further information: http://www.stagesource.org/programs-and-events/gbte/
Mark G. Auerbach studied theatre at American University and the Yale School of Drama. He’s worked for arts organizations and reported on theatre for newspapers and radio.