CEDAR FALLS — Karen Zacharias’ play “Legacy of Light” has been described by critics as both an “intellectual joyride” and “flight of fancy.” The playwright explores the lives of two women three centuries apart who are struggling with the same questions about life, love, motherhood, science, art and the legacy they will leave behind.

Theatre UNI will present the romantic comedy through March 3 at the Strayer-Wood Theatre on the University of Northern Iowa campus.

Director Amy Osatinski says the production is both challenging and exciting. “It’s a play written by a woman about women. It’s exciting and rare to tell a story about women from the perspective of women.”

Emilie Du Chatalet, a real-life 18th century French scientist and scholar, was philosopher Voltaire’s lover. He makes an appearance, and there are discussions about Isaac Newton. Chatalet’s work on the properties of light and energy formed the scientific foundation for discoveries to follow by scientists like Albert Einstein. She wasn’t allowed to publish her work under her own name, and she died in 1749 after childbirth.

Her life is juxtaposed with Olivia, a fictional 21st century astrophysicist who is left unable to have children after ovarian cancer and hires a surrogate to carry her child. She fears dying before she achieves all she can.

The plot explores the connections between the two women, and Osatinski says, “the idea of what is one’s legacy, whether it is your children, your work or what else is left behind when you’re no longer here.”

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The director describes the production as “very theatrical” with two styles of scenery, language and costume, as well as sword play. A pantomime chorus will ease transitions between scenes and provide interludes.

“Just the fact that ‘light’ is in the title, playing with light and crossing the time periods has been joyful for us to work on from both performing and technical standpoints. ‘What do we light up, and what do we keep in the dark?’ The lighting is very special on this show,” Osatinski says.

Lighting design is by UNI student designer Chris Hanian, and sound design is by UNI student designer Tommy Truelsen. Scenic design is by Ron Koinzan, technical director. Costume designer is by Amy S. RohrBerg, associate professor of costume design.

Students worked with other faculty members on staging sword fights and movement, particularly posture and movements commonplace in the 18th century.

There are 13 cast members and two understudies.

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Arts/Special Sections Editor

Special Sections Editor for the Courier

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