A greater understanding…


We hope you got a lot from your experience with Quantum. Our staff and board are interested to hear what you think, and encourage you to talk with others as well – so we inaugurate an online conversation you can join with fellow attendees. What did you like/dislike about the production? Was there something in particular that resonated with you? Something particularly confusing? Is there something you can think of that even with our limited resources, we could have offered to better prepare you for the experience, or done at the site to give you greater ability to enjoy it while you were there?

Leave your comment in the comment box below. Be sure to click the box that will notify you of responses to your comment.  Some will come from Karla, and some (we hope) will come from others.  You’re a valued member of the Q-mmunity.  Together we’ll come to a greater understanding.

We greatly appreciate your thoughts and look forward to continuing the conversation!


33 comments on “A greater understanding…

  1. Jean Ferguson Carr says:

    I had seen Mnemonic in 2001 in NY–was delighted to see it again. It’s a fascinating play–doesn’t grow old. In fact, one of the pleasures was trying to remember the 2001 production (as separate from what we’d read long ago about the Ice Man, from this production, from what we know about hippocampus research, etc).

    Wonderful show!

  2. DeWayne Tuthill says:

    Enjoyed Mnemonic. Reminded me a bit of the last Quantum play. Both seemed to capture the timelessness of things. The actors were sharp with their timing and prop management. The leaf drill was intriguing. Familiar…

  3. Ginny Cunningham says:

    It may seem an odd thing to start with, but I was amazed at the beautiful physicality of this play. The gorgeous, graceful choreography, bodies moving so exquisitely in sync, plastic flowing in and over to make mountains and glaciers. I sat there in awe and deeply appreciative of the talent and skill involved. I was intrigued, also, by the Ice Man’s story, the presentation of the detail and the mystery surrounding that ancient story, as well as by the play’s parallel story/search for the missing contemporary father and the lovely attention to the detail of his life. As for the memory concept that opened and underlay the play, I must admit to a yawning lack of sophistication. I either didn’t ‘get it’ or wasn’t moved to do the work that it would take to get it. Perhaps, though, it left me with more than I realized at the time. For instance, because of a trick performed by the narrator, I remember that he wore a blue shirt, the kind of detail I NEVER remember. And, so, I am compelled to reflect upon the trick, to consider how, where, and when this has worked in the past and how I might consider using it in the future. Hmmmmmmmm

  4. DeWayne Tuthill says:

    Perhaps I can edit the “my” to “me”…

  5. Ed Pekor says:

    Hard to really enjoy a play when you are sitting in a sweltering theatre space. Scheduling a play in July without air conditioning makes no sense.
    The play itself had a few redeeming features although overall I was disappointed in it.

  6. WILLIE G. BENDER says:

    I especially enjoyed the explanation of Mnemonic at the beginning. The physical movement of people and set pieces took awhile to get accustomed to and only after reading the newspaper reporters’ article the next day did I appreciate the performance in total.
    Excitingly unique (to me) presentation, and really good cast performance.
    I attended the performance (which I can neither pronounce nor spell) in Highland Park, and I am impressed, excited that such people are in this area, and am so glad that I saw the productions!

    May the Curtain Calls Continue,
    Best Wishes,
    Bill Bender

  7. Jeannemarie says:

    I always LOVE Quantum experiences…so interesting…actors so talented…video, music, and venues inspired! Great evening of theater. It got pretty warm in there last night, perhaps not for Malcolm, but thanks for the cooling at the start.
    I see that Complicite did The Master and Margarita, which I just read, and I would love to see what Quantum could do with that!

  8. ARTHUR KERR says:

    The play was very thought provoking and well done.

  9. Richard K. Baker says:

    I saw Mnemonic last night. The acting was outstanding and the set very creative. Being dependent on hearing aids, I had problems understanding many of the lines using different dialects. This play sticks in my memory. Many times today when thinking about events in my life,
    I have thought of this play, both in terms of recent memory and thoughts about things further in the past. I am so glad I saw it.

  10. Karen Coulter Perkins says:

    I loved the contrasts and interplay between the chaos-yet-sameness of all our histories/experiences/leaf veins; how driven we are to make sense of our histories based on tiny fragments/clues of what we “know,” or think we know; how blinded we really are to being able to see/understand/remember what is “true”; and how our own brains/memories/self-stories then shape our perceptions of everything we experience. Fear unsettles us, keeps us moving/seeking.

    Great production. Would love to see it a second time to better note patterns and comparisons. Thanks for giving me these ideas to chew on!

    (And yes, it was awfully and distractingly hot…a problem.)

  11. The cast was fantastic!! Very impressed with the accents and how emotionally involved they were in the piece from start to finish. Loved the technical aspects and the sensory experience in the beginning. Congrats!!

  12. Shelly Pagac says:

    I loved “Mnemonic.” I thought it was thought-provoking, and confirmed my belief that memories are based often more on impressions than facts. My children will relate stories to me of their past, and will tell me things that happened, and I can swear those events never occurred. Two people came to me recently sharing remarks they believed I made, and again, I can swear those remarks were never made, but each of those individuals was conveying an impression of me they had made. “Mnemonic” made me realize that our memories get twisted with our impressions of what is happening and what we are feeling that day, and we then remember the event which may or may not be consistent with reality. The question then becomes what is reality – the actual event or the impression on our minds the event made — which seems to be the point of the segment with the professors speculating what happened with the Iceman. I loved the lighting, stage design, use of technology, use of the screens, the “chair”, and the acting. “Mnemonic” was a wonderful experience, and leaves me craving for the next Quantum show. (posted by Shelly Pagac)

  13. Karla Boos says:

    Want to respond with a big thank you for all comments, we really care what people think, and this especially is theatre that lives in the space between the artists and the audience…what it provokes in you on a personal level. Can I apologize also about the heat on opening weekend? We’re grateful to have that giant mobile air conditioner… but can’t run it for noise while the show’s on, expected it to cool it down further, stay cool a little longer. We have new plans: ceiling fans that stay on and circulate the cool air for hour-long Act 1, turn AC back on for intermission, ceiling fans going for Act 2. We don’t want you to suffer, just loved the space for the show for a myriad of reasons.

  14. Barton Schindel says:

    Mnemonic had an interesting theme and I think the staging was innovative which is a Quantum trademark. It had some of the appeal of The Golden Dragon from last year but I didn’t think it matched it in any category. It did seem to wonder from its topic near the end with all the scientists going on and on about their theories. I thought the actors were uniformly good. Unfortunately my wife and I spent way too much energy fanning ourselves with our programs. While I appreciate Quantum’s unique choice of settings, watching a play should not be a test of physical endurance and the heat brought us both near to passing out. I can’t imagine how the actors survived, particularly in the scenes where they were wearing parkas.

  15. Debra Reich says:

    It is summer and it was hot when my husband and I went to see the performance; yet, interestingly, we both experienced the play as cooling… perhaps it was the excellent execution of the ice-man theme, or the good use of media… in the end, we discussed how we see things, how are past influences this, and how what we see effects how we experience everything, including the temperature in the room ! This is a super script, well-executed, and will keep you thinking long after the performance ends !

  16. Rumi says:

    Mnemonic seems less about memory than the search for identity and connectedness in modern life through the unusual lens of pre-history. I think Quantum and Karla Boos should be commended for mounting a challenging, inventively-staged and well-acted play for Pittsburgh audiences. But days later, I still wonder, “How can I articulate what I feel I missed in the play?” I will try to do so.

    Who among us would say, “I don’t want to think!” without more than a little shame at one’s own intellectual laziness? But it goes deeper than that, I believe. It goes to the fundamental tension in any art form between emotional and intellectual demands: how mysterious vs. how straightforward; degrees of complexity vs. simplicity; how much emotional vulnerability the reader/audience can feel in the characters/story. I’m left wondering, “Why didn’t I feel much after seeing Mnemonic?”

    I know some plays engage the intellect more than the emotions, and that’s okay, but in the end, for me, it matters how much and to what degree. In Quantum’s production of When the Rain Stops Falling, I was jostled back and forth in time and challenged throughout the evening, but not without a devastating emotional impact. (My favorite Pittsburgh play perhaps ever.) What I look for in plays is the quality of relationship—why is Alice running from Virgil now; why is Alice searching for her father now…for me, it was hard to care about them without some more grounding story…or less dizzying sub-stories. I cared most about Otzi. I wanted to care about the other characters more.

    • Jean says:

      I was intrigued by many of the comments but most of all by yours because it reflects my own reaction. I wanted to empathize more with Alice and Virgil–to really care about them. But overall it was a memorable theater experience, as Quantum often provides

      • marion damick says:

        I agree. I really coulldn’t feel any connection to either of them, Maybe we weren’t expected to.

    • Brian says:

      wow, your words mirrored my thoughts, very well articulated, thank you!

  17. Matt J. says:

    While I certainly commend the performers for their execution of what is a most unusual sort of play, I can honestly say that ‘Mnemonic’ was (as originally written/devised, I presume) one of the worst shows I’ve ever seen. The bones of it have real potential. It’s a compelling concept and tries to engage the audience in a novel way. The first ‘act’ is largely uninteresting and doesn’t generate very good momentum (which it finally begins to get a bit of before being severed by the intermission) because the characters are not deeply developed and the connections between the stories are not yet apparent. The second ‘act’ reconnects much of the first’s wandering, but the play fails to drive its point home. It seemed that all of the ideas that the show wanted the audience to take away were skirted and avoided in some misguided attempt to convey the non-linearity and incomplete nature of memory. While that may be an apt artistic representation, it made the story-telling very jarring and, frankly, unpleasant. During the bizarre conference scene near the end, I lost what goodwill I had been trying hard to cultivate toward the show; under the assumption that this show was performed as written, Complicite badly needed some editors.

    I do hope this hasn’t been overly negative; I have a lot of respect for Quantum and what it does, and I will continue to be interested in their shows. Sometimes bad art is worth experiencing for perspective, but even that doesn’t ease my disappointment with Mnemonic.

  18. Monika says:

    Overall a wonderful play, and well acted. In style, it reminded of NPR Radiolab, which I love. Minor points: It took a bit long to connect the separate story lines, and then they touch only briefly – which might be the point – but left me a bit unsatisfied. Also, Alice’s story felt a bit too superficial for such a main character.

  19. Karla Boos says:

    Kind of responding to these 2, Matt and Rumi…

    We did want you to feel Rumi, so I’m unhappy that we didn’t achieve that for you (read Pittsburgh Tatler – very thoughtful review from Wendy Arons which agrees with you but also I think greatly admires the play). But maybe, possibly, we didn’t need you to feel for, or through, Alice and Virgil, so much as to think (and then feel) about yourself. Your sense of identity and whether you feel connected or alone (we all probably feel both, don’t we? It must be so basic to human beings… and thus why little has changed, fundamentally, in the way we treat each other – that for me is a major point of the play, fact that we are simultaneously alone and connected.) I think that’s where the play’s going in the beginning when it asks that you remember your own ancestors in the dark, holding the leaf, and have whatever emotional response that experience prompts, preparing you for this to be about… you.

    Matt, sorry you hated it! And appreciate that you have respect for Quantum. What excites me about the play is that its form is connected to its content in a way that feels completely unlike any other piece of theatre I’ve experienced, and since I’m an experimenter… trying to find new ways that the theatre might communicate… I’m drawn to what is unprecedented in my experience, to poke at it, do my best, see if it might be something extraordinary we’d never get if we didn’t try… or a worthy effort that was not. The play is fragmented like memory is fragmented and subject to emotions. Certain things loom large, others are a flash, a snippet, and we put meaning together, each of us, in a unique way. You may still hate Mnemonic, you may demand that theatre tell a good story, period. I want more, I want the art form to expand my mind, my sense of humanity, and at this point, I must see if there are ways, other than through story and through the realistic depiction of characters, that it can do that – I guess I’d say I was ready in this case to sacrifice story (when I experienced the play 15 years ago, the rewards were great for that sacrifice for me). Funny, might be that I’m such a lover of fiction- very, very passionate reader of stories, that I acknowledge that theatre is something else, will not be the greatest medium for telling a story. I think theatre is both more and less than that to me, and also bumps up against other art forms – dance, music, visual arts. Things like – here’s a wacky example – rhythm have a lot to do with the assemblage of meaning for me.

  20. Mary M. says:

    The acting stands out as among the best I’ve experienced at Quantum. And the role of Joe Seamans’ videography as both character and set was memorable. Though I was engaged in both story lines, the theme of memory felt disjointed — maybe as vehicle to demonstrate its nature — but I’m curious about how you see the idea of memory applying to the Iceman.

  21. Beth B says:

    I loved the theme, but I think the message would have been more powerful if the overall length of the perfomance would have been cut. The second act, especially, could have used a good edit. It is my understanding that Mnemonic is usually performed without an intermission and I can see why. With an intermission and a (too) long second act, it really loses momentum.
    Kudos, though, to all of the actors who did an excellent job juggling mutiple roles (not to mention accents).

  22. marion damick says:

    I could follow the play well–possibly too well, as I felt the first part (before intermission) was the most interesting. The second section started to annoy me with all the German discussion and arguments and couldn’t completely follow it. I was well acquainted with the Ice Man (being of “a certain age” but did appreciate the details. The film work was excellent and very expressive. I also (having done theatrical lighting ) kept wondering how they managed to place the lights in such inaccessive locations. shows I wasn’t always watching the play.

  23. Michael says:

    Went to see Mnemonic last night with my daughter- was thrilled by Karla’s warm reception, and mostly enjoyed the play. The rather complex interactions and interchanges between the characters, when understandable, were interesting to follow. The introductory monologue and the acting both superb.The dance-like movements were beautifully done as were the projections on the walls. What should have been a topflight experience was diminished for me by two factors:

    1. the fans blowing down created a huge draft which made me very uncomfortable, and when I asked for them to be slowed down, I was politely told to move.Finding a draft-free seat proved to be a real problem!
    2. As someone with some hearing loss I found some of the dialogue not understandable, hence making following the play difficult.

    As a longtime subscriber and attendee of Quantum I appreciated the amount of effort and work involved in presenting this, and look forward to the next Play.

  24. berta kapoor says:

    We enjoyed it and still are thinking and talking about it!
    Congratulations on a fantastic performance!

  25. Sarah says:

    The play is intellectually engaging and lively. It made me think. But I found it too long with several endings. The Iceman aspect is too repetitive. The production was innovative as usual.

  26. Cynthia Savitt says:

    I’ve never seen a play as different as this.The choreography was graceful, precise and synergistic. The actors were excellent, in perfect sync with one another, and mastered their foreign accents beautifully. The play was absolutely captivating and intriguing, although the second act was a bit drawn out for me. I was extremely impressed with the tremendous amount of effort put forth to present this play. It was indeed a pleasure meeting Karla Boos.

  27. Karla Boos says:

    I thought I’d post a comment going into our final three performances. I’m very grateful to everyone who wrote here, in a way that was public. Every Quantum show generates a lot of comments, actually, usually from people who feel pretty intensely about something, often positive, sometimes negative. To date they’ve come directly to me, or Stevie and Teresa. I think opening this blog for all to see what is said is meaningful and we’ll continue doing this. I hope down the road people will comment on each others’ comments… support, refute, debate.

    We also started surveying people at the site and got amazing responses and lots of them (thank you)! Some were critical of this or that, some thinking the play was too long (at 2 hours plus 15 minute intermission :); quite a few saying they were confused (often going on to say they liked it heartily anyway), MANY MANY saying the chairs are killing them. And then almost all ended with a ‘Yes, I would recommend to a friend’ which would occasionally make us smile if the criticism was quite severe. So maybe we can conclude that we all DO want to be challenged? I know you don’t want to be bored, you want to care, you want to connect with the play. I always want you to too. I just don’t get involved with the tried and true, so handing the play, our best efforts, over to you starts as a mystery (and proceeds into a paradox, as peoples’ responses are often diametrically opposed.)

    Guess what? We’re getting new chairs. Really cushy ones, on sale! They’ll be in place for the next show. And we are now the proud owners of 4, good-quality ceiling fans, so at the very least we know your comments upped the ante on us serving your basic needs.

    Mnemonic’s group of artists is a very warm one, one that loves to laugh together, did something difficult together, and wants to bring you inside what they built, into their circle of warmth. Send them a good thought for the close. Tell a friend to come on down this weekend?

    And I hope to see you at Parlour Song in the fall, which couldn’t be more different, as is our way.

    Karla Boos

  28. Susan Blackman says:

    Funny to read the snippets of negative comments, though that’s what a forum like this is good for, I’m sure. For my part, this was definitely one of my favorite Quantum plays in a very long time. I was swept away in the story/stories and was very much impressed with the range and skill of the actors. And the space and the use of projections. I’m a theatre addict; would that all of my experiences were so satisfying. And no, I didn’t really understand it. But it keeps reentering my consciousness. Thank you!

  29. I like the challenges I find in the Quantum productions. Mneumonic kept me scrambling to locate meaning in the very vital “scene” changes that frequently caused a need for readjustment for a grasp of what the meaning of “anything” was in the unfolding of the production. Somehow I was able to see myself in the ‘type” of the iceman; and to picture myself in the scary circumstances eventually speculated about throughout the play. The overall “point” I get from the action is the enormity of the questions suggested, and the incredible difficulty in making sense of Iceman’s task of defining a difficult set of questions, and making decisions based on incomplete data.

  30. Abe Rybeck says:

    To Carla and the whole Quantum gang:
    I’m really sorry it’s taken me so long to respond about it. No good reason, just procrastination. This is my favorite of the three terrific Quantum shows I’ve seen. I thought the material was terrific (if maybe a little longer than it needed to be) and the production was rich and deep with heart and intellect. One thing I enjoyed was how difficult I found explaining the narrative to other people who weren’t familiar with this type of theater. I love it when theater actually requires you to be there in the moment to “get” it! You are a wonderful group and I feel very lucky to be exposed to your work.

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