Remembering H.M. – Public Programs and Special Events

Mark your calendars! The Central Square Cinema and team behind “Remembering H.M.” have planned a remarkable series of events to address the history and impact of H.M.’s story on our understanding of human memory. Tickets to the play are now available!

All events are at the Central Square Theater, located at 450 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139

Saturday, April 14
7:00 – 7:40 p.m. (before 8:00 p.m. show)
Saturday Symposium
The Legacy of H.M.: Memory and Research
H.M.’s case greatly illuminated the field of Neuroscience and memory research. What did his condition teach us about how our memory works, and where can we see the impact and the legacy of H.M. in science today?
Special Guests:  John D. E. Gabrieli, Grover Hermann Professor, Health Sciences, Technology, and Cognitive Neuroscience, MIT; and Philip Hilts, Director, Knight Science Journalism Fellowships, MIT, author of Memory’s Ghost – The Nature of Memory and the Strange Tale of Mr. M.

Sunday, April 15
Sunday Soiree following 2:00 p.m. performance
Congratulate the cast at a complimentary post-show reception!

Wednesday, April 18
Central Conversations
Following 7:30 pm performance
Tonight’s performance is followed by a conversation with CST staff, artists, audiences, and Cambridge-area organizations, focusing on intersections between stories on our stage and stories in our community.
Special Guests: Kaloyan S. Tanev, MD, Director of Clinical Neuropsychiatry Research at Massachusetts General Hospital, and a physician in the MGH/Red Sox Foundation Home Base Program, dedicated to improving the lives of veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan living with deployment- or combat-related stress and/or traumatic brain injury. Sarah Boyer, Oral History Project coordinator, Cambridge Historical Commission, who interviews the people of Cambridge about their memories of the neighborhoods they lived in and cared for during the last century. Ildiko Szabo, Director of Community Life, Youville House in Cambridge.

Thursday, April 19
Artists and Audiences
Following 7:30 p.m. performance
Join the cast and director in a post-performance talkback!
Special Guests: Cast and director of REMEMBERING H.M.

Saturday, April 21
7:00 – 7:40 p.m. (before 8:00 p.m. show)
Saturday Symposium
The Legacy of H.M.: Memory and Research
H.M.’s case greatly illuminated the field of Neuroscience and memory research.
What did his condition teach us about how our memory works, and where can we see the impact and the legacy of H.M. in science today?
Special Guests:  Howard Eichenbaum, Professor of Cognitive Neurobiology at Boston University. He is also the director of the Center for Memory and The Brain, the Center for Neuroscience, and of the Cognitive Neurobiology Laboratory. His primary focus is on the hippocampus, the portion of HM’s brain that was removed in his surgery.

Thursday, April 26
Scholar Social
Following 7:30 p.m. performance
Special Guest:  Suzanne Corkin, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT and Head of the Behavioral Neuroscience Lab.  Her research focuses on the biological bases of human memory networks, cognitive and neural characteristics of healthy aging, and natural history and pathophysiology of degenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.  She studied H.M. from 1962 until his death in 2008.

Friday, April 27
Adapting HM’s Story for the Stage
Following 8:00 p.m. performance
Join Wes Savick and Tod Machover, the Director/Playwright and the Composer of REMEMBERING H.M., for a post-show conversation about their journey bringing H.M.’s story to the stage.

Saturday, April 28
1:30 – 2:45 p.m. (before 3:00 p.m. show)
Plays on Memory – Short plays by MIT student playwrights
Special Guest: Playwright Alan Brody, Professor of Theater, MIT. Playwrights: Stephen Giandomenico, Sarah Gumlak, Christopher Smith, and Mark Velednitsky, all MIT students or graduates in the sciences.

Saturday, April 28
7:00 p.m. (before 8:00 p.m. show)
Saturday Symposium
The Fine Art of Remembering: Memory and Representation
Scenes from a new play exploring aging and memory, Mag and Me, by Deborah Lake Fortson will be performed and responded to by a scientist who studies changes in memory as a function of age. How can artists help us understand what memory is and how it works?
Special Guests:  Deborah Lake Fortson, playwright, and Dr. Ayanna Kim Thomas, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Tufts, whose research explores memory accuracy and information retrieval.

Sunday, April 29
Post-Performance Conversation following 2:00 p.m. performance
Special Guest: Nehassaiu deGannes, poet and performer, whose original works often take memory as a central subject. Most recently her poetry collection “Undressing the River” won the Center for Book Arts Chapbook Prize and was published in 2011.

Thursday, May 3
Post-Performance Conversation following 7:30 p.m. performance
Special Guest: Robin Abrahams, author, research psychologist, Underground Railway Theater Board member, and particularly well known as the Boston Globe columnist – Miss Conduct.

Friday, May 4
Post-Performance Conversation following 8:00 p.m. performance
Special Guest: Dr. Li-Huei Tsai, Professor and Director – Picower Institute for Learning and Memory; Investigator – Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Senior Associate Member, Broad Institute. Her work focuses on the pathogenic mechanisms underlying neurological disorders affecting learning and memory, such as autism, Alzheimer’s disease, and Schizophrenia.

Saturday, May 5
7:00 – 7:40 p.m. (before 8:00 p.m. show)
Saturday Symposium
Fabrication Of Things Past: Memory and Truth
H.M. was unable to recall what he said or did moments before. But what about the rest of us — are our memories really as accurate as we think they are?
Special Guest: Daniel Schacter, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Psychology at Harvard University and director of the Schacter Memory Lab at Harvard. Dr. Schacter’s books on memory and cognition include: The Seven Sins of Memory: How the Mind Forgets and Remembers, and Searching for Memory: The Brain, The Mind, and The Past.

Sunday, May 6
Post-Performance Conversation following 2:00 p.m. performance
Special Guest: Angela Gutchess, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Brandeis University.  Her expertise is in how age and culture affect memory and social cognition.

Friday, May 11
6:30 – 7:40 (before 8 pm show)
The Story Collider
From finding awe in Hubble images to visiting the doctor, science is everywhere in our lives. Whether we wear a white lab coat or haven’t seen a test tube since eighth grade, science affects and changes us. We all have a story about science, and The Story Collider, a NYC-based group inspired by The Moth, collects them! Tonight’s special guests will tell true personal stories about how the legacy of H.M. continues to reverberate in their own lives.
Special Guest Storytellers TBD

Saturday, May 12
7:00 – 7:40 p.m. (before 8:00 p.m. show)
Saturday Symposium
The Stranger in the Mirror: Memory and Identity
Scientists have differing perspectives on whether H.M.’s sense of self disappeared with his ability to form new memories. Are we still ourselves without our memories?
Special Guest: Tomaso Poggio, Eugene McDermott Professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory


Technology Review: Opera, Remixed

Sound check Ben Bloomberg, '11 works in the “engine room” in Monte Carlo, entering coördinates for speakers used in Death and the Powers. Credit: Peter Torpey

The M.I.T. Media Lab attracts people whose quirky passions and eclectic skill make them misfits in traditional academic departments. Founding director Nicholas Negroponte likes to call the lab a salon de refusés, a roomful of rejects. One such refusé was Ben Bloomberg, an undergraduate who loves pop music and entertainment technology. In the current issue of Technology Review, Ben tells an engaging story of how he found himself at the epicenter of 21st century opera:

I’m sitting in the cavernous Harris Theater in Chicago when an older man with a beard steps up to a microphone. “This project is something that will be remembered,” he says. “Ten or 100 years from now the history books will list this as the turning point, a great shift for the world of opera…”

Read the rest at “Opera, Remixed: My UROP in the Opera of the Future lab”

A couple of wonderful blog posts…

Just when we thought the Chicago coverage was finished, we came across these two thoughtful and thorough blog posts:

MAL Music – Death and the Powers “This is one of those posts that makes it difficult for me not to just hit caps lock and begin effusing unintelligibly about how wonderful this show I saw was…Watching the show got me so engrossed in the plot, though, that it made it pretty difficult to admire the tech on its own — it all became a part of the story, which was probably their plan all along.”

A tale of two operas: ‘Vincent’ and ‘Death’ “Back in the day, opera was a true multimedia experience, from trompe l’oeil backgrounds to pre-digital sound effects. The use of robotics and other special effects in Death and the Powers gets towards that somewhat archaic sense of opera as a complete sensory experience — it was paced like a film and with just as much action, packed with ideas and humor, emotionally affecting and resonant, surprising and cutting-edge.”

Monsters and Immortals

Soprano Sara Heaton and tenor Hal Cazalet in the opera "Death and the Powers," the American Repertory Theater production that bears a serious message about moral accountability.

David Patrick Stearns, the classical music critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, has written a thoughtful review of Death and the Powers and another new work, a stage adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, directed by Slumdog Millionaire Oscar winner Danny Boyle for the National Theater of Great Britain. The two works are linked thematically (“the desire to cheat death”) and by their effective use of stage technology to pack a cinematic punch. Here’s what he had to say about Death and the Powers:

As it now stands, Death and the Powers doesn’t point the way to a new era of opera. It’s there. Now.

Everything works – the robots of the prologue and epilogue move fluidly and expressively; the set consists of large movable video panels that create all sorts of atmosphere but also come together for larger composite images, which are particularly effective when the billionaire is communicating from his world of light. Continue reading

Media coverage of Death and the Powers in Chicago

Harris Theater, photo by Tod Machover

Death and the Powers is gearing up for its run with the Chicago Opera Theater, and creative director and composer Tod Machover is running around town for a non-stop series of interviews. COT has posted press blurbs from the Boston run. We’re doing our best to keep up! We’ll be collecting this week’s media coverage here:

Styleboston (WCVB-TV Boston) will air ‘Plugged In’, DEATH AND THE POWERS: The Robots’ Opera, Sat 4/3 11:35PM & Sun 4/4 at midnight. Watch this teaser.

AARP Magazine – Opera for a New Age: Death and the Powers considers a lonely life in the ether

WTTW TV interview with Tod Machover Scroll down to March 31 programs to watch

Discovery Channel Canada broadcast a feature about Death and the Powers this week. We’ll be posting the video when it become available.

A.V. Club Chicago – Robot opera composer Tod Machover posted this wide-ranging interview with video clips including a YouTube of the Finale from VALIS.

Chicago Tonight (WTTW-TV, Chicago’s PBS station) – We hear that Tod may be interviewed Thursday, March 31,  6:30pm – 7:45pm.

Styleboston (WCVB-TV Boston) will be airing the segment ‘Plugged In’, DEATH AND THE POWERS: The Robots’ Opera, this weekend on Saturday, April 3, 11:35PM and Sunday, April 4 at 12 midnight.

98.7 FM WFMT-Radio Chicago Tuesday April 5 from 2p – 4pm.  The show can be heard on world wide radio-streaming web and on the station’s free iPhone app.

Chicago Tribune – Cue the robots – opera for the digital era arrives at COT

Chicago Classical Review – Machover’s “robot opera” to kick off Chicago Opera Theater’s season

Clef Notes Chicagoland Journal of the Arts offers an informative, elegantly written article about the upcoming Chicago Opera Theater run of Death and the Powers.