Two people. Infinite possibilities. A fantastical journey to parallel worlds where Marianne, a physicist and Roland, a beekeeper, fall in love, over and over again, in a multitude of ways. Every choice they make has a different, life-altering outcome, questioning whether our lives are the result of free will or fate. A romantic, intimate, quantum mechanics comedy about love, friendship, destiny and honey!
Cellist Jane Chan | Set and Costume Designer Michael Gianfrancesco | Lighting Designer Andrea Lundy
Sound Designer Peter Cerone| Fight Choreographer Jean-François Gagnon
Stage Manager Michael Hart | Assistant Stage Manager Jacynthe Lalonde | Assistant to the Director Stephanie Costa
Nick Payne (right) accepts the award for best play for Constellations from Ralph Fiennes
Photograph: Dave M Benett/Getty Images
Centaur Stage caught up with Constellations creator, the very busy and prolific British playwright, Nick Payne. He is not only a gifted writer, who never picked up a pen before attending university a little more than a decade ago but is also, despite the awards and accolades, refreshingly down-to-earth with a charming self-effacing sense of humour.
Centaur Stage: At 32 years of age, you already have an impressive body of work that not only encompasses theatre but also radio, television, film, adaptations of the classics (Electra) and contemporary novels (BBC’s upcoming release of The Sense of an Ending with Jim Broadbent and Charlotte Rampling). You’ve been a commissioned writer for both The Royal Court (UK) and the Manhattan Theatre Club (USA) and the Playwright-in-Residence at London’s Donmar Warehouse. In 2009, your first play, If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet, won the prestigious George Divine Award and the following year you were shortlisted by the Evening Standard as the Most Promising Playwright. Constellations won the Evening Standard’s Best Play award in 2012 and was a best play nominee for the Olivier. Awards are obviously an asset in terms of securing more work and having your scripts produced but do they sometimes cast a pressure-filled shadow of expectation?
Nick Payne: In the long-term, awards don't really make any difference. In the short-term, yes, they can be nice, particularly if they are accompanied with some money and/or a nice evening out with some beer and food. But I feel no pressure either way, as a winner or (more frequently) as a loser.
CS: Do you have complete artistic freedom when working with theatre institutions in terms of what you want to write about?
NP: I have some artistic freedom in the theatre when it comes to the writing of a play. In production, any decision-making is then made collaboratively. In film and television, I have much less input, editorially, but I don't mind that.
CS: Your daily writing routine consists of getting up, grinding coffee beans, popping them into your Aero Press and getting right down to business. Such a disciplined regime must eliminate last-minute deadlines? Do deadlines stimulate or inhibit your creativity?
NP: Yes, I have a routine each day from 8am-1pm. I don't mind deadlines; I try to stick to them, if not keep slightly ahead of them.
CS: Links have been made between mathematical and musical aptitudes. You seem to be drawn to science and frequently incorporate various aspects of it into your work. Do you think there is a similar correlation between science and language arts?
NP: I have no scientific background whatsoever. The sciences and the arts involve very different skillsets, but I think both are equally creative. The empirical method always reminds me of that Beckett quote: “Fail again, fail better.” In that sense, certain aspects of the sciences and the arts aren't that different: they both explore what it means to be human ... what makes us human ... and so on.
CS: A play like Constellations, exploring such vast topics as free will, fate, and quantum physics, requires a lot of research. Your original thoughts or opinions must sometimes alter from when you set out to write. What did you learn, or what changed, in writing Constellations?
NP: I suppose, pre-Constellations, I probably assumed I had (some kind of) Free Will. I don't really believe that anymore, I don't think. But it doesn't really make any difference, because the illusion of Free Will is so great it's pretty difficult to autonomously give up believing in it!
CS: Your story ideas come from a wide range of sources. What seemingly random [wink wink] ideas are you thinking of exploring?
NP: I just finished reading two American novels: Zero K by Don DeLilo and Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers; both were excellent. Recently I loved a film entitled Mustang and right now I'm reading a collection of Alice Munro short stories. I don't read much online (I'm not on social media, etc.) but I try to read The Guardian, The Observer, New Statesman, Little White Lies, and The Believer on a regular basis. Occasionally I read The New Yorker, New York Review of Books, New Scientist, and Scientific American Mind.
CS: Who knows where these diverse influences will take the curious playwright, and us, next.
Oct 11 Westmount Mag, Byron Toben
at the Centaur
The cast that director Peter Hinton has assembled couldn’t be better. Graham Cuthbertson, a Centaur favourite and founding member of the terrific Sidemart Theatrical Grocery, is here as Roland, a down to earth bee keeper who wanders into a relationship with...
Oct 10 Broadway World, Marilla Steuter-Martin
CONSTELLATIONS at Centaur Theatre
Every choice you make has the potential for a different, life-altering outcome. This is the main tenet that drives Constellations, a mixed-up, energetic two-hander that races forward at top speed while the audience follows behind, collecting bread crumbs along the way.
Oct 8 Séquences, Élie Castiel
PHYSICALITÉ DE L’ÊTRE
Lui, c’est Roland. Elle, c’est Marianne. Et puis, une violencelliste, Jane Chan, tout aussi discrète qu’adaptée à une mise en scène circulaire et inventive signée Peter Hinton, en pleine possession de ses moyens techniques, l’œil observateur, l’imaginaire fertile, apprivoisant les...
In collaboration with
An inspiring, informative and entertaining lecture designed to enrich your theatre-going experience.
October 9 12:30 PM - FREE ADMISSION
Join Montreal Gazette Entertainment Journalist Brendan Kelly as he speaks with Constellations Director Peter Hinton, and Mr. Alex Maloney, Associate Professor of Physics & William Dawson Scholar at McGill University. Together they will speak about String Theory, Multiverses and how to bring Science to the Stage.
Free coffee and biscotti, generously provided by Season Sponsor Bonaparte Restaurant.
Oct 7 Montreal Gazette, Jim Burke
Constellations launches Centaur’s new season into the multiverse
Inside, there’s an altogether more beautiful otherworldly vision in Michael Gianfrancesco’s set and Andrea Lundy’s lighting design for Constellations, Nick Payne’s multi-award-winning “quantum love story,” which has its two...
CBC CinQ A SIX
Theatre Director Peter Hinton shares stories behind his Music Playlist
Award-winning theatre Director Peter Hinton directs the play 'Constellations' for Centaur Theatre's first show of the new season.
But today, Hinton has selected music he loves and tells us why it is important to him!
Sept 30 Montreal Gazette, Jim Burke
Constellations is a quantum love story that flits between universes
How to begin this feature? Maybe with: Having just directed Alice in Wonderland at the Shaw Festival, Peter Hinton is again diving down the rabbit hole, this time into the crazy sub-atomic world of quantum physics ...