Works & Process: Icarus at the Edge of Time

Einstein had the math that explained the movement of black holes, but even the inimitable physicist couldn’t tell you what it all meant or answer questions like how black holes are so powerful they even pull in light. So what is a black hole, and what’s on the other side of it? That’s the subject of the new play, “Icarus on the Edge of Time” opening at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall on June 2nd to mark the opening of the third annual World Science Festival.

Based on a children’s book of the same name by physicist and mathematician Brian Greene, the Icarus tale gets a futuristic makeover with Icarus traveling in a space ship to check out a black hole against his father’s instructions. Time slows down as Icarus enters the black hole, and what seems like an hour-long joy ride is really thousands of years. He survives and returns, but it’s been 10,000 years since he left and he comes back wishing he had listened to his father and left the cosmos alone.

In a conversation last night at the Guggenheim as part of their Works & Process series, Alan Alda moderated a panel with Briane Green, playwright David Henry Hwang and visual artists Al&Al (via satellite due to the volcano) who all collaborated with composer Philip Glass on an original score for the play. If anyone could write the music of a black hole it’s Philip Glass, who has written music for other science-themed productions like KOYAANISQATSI. On the brink of a new chapter in space travel, “Icarus at the Edge of Time” explores the mysteries of the universe and what happens to man when he reaches past his limitations.