Gordon in the News: last updated 06/27/2013

Science Explodes In The Theatre: Gordon College Produces Award-winning Play About Cloning

August 19, 2008

Jo Kadlecek
Office of College Communication

WENHAM, MA--What happens when a father loses his son? Will his grief drive him to despair? Or will he go to any lengths to get him back, even if that means cloning him?

Described by one reviewer as "part psychological thriller, part topical scientific speculation, and part analysis of the relationship between fathers and their sons," British playwright Caryl Churchill's award-winning play A Number confronts the difficult questions of human loss in a scientific age. Churchill, who has never been afraid to ask hard questions in her work, has written over 25 plays that often stretch the boundaries of theatre in thought-provoking ways. A Number, which first premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 2002, is no exception.

It is no accident, then, that Jeff Miller, distinguished professor of theatre arts at Gordon College, department chair, and professional director, chose A Number to coincide with the dedication of Gordon's new science building, the Ken Olsen Science Center, Sat., Sept. 27. Performances for the 50-minute, two-man show will run Sept. 24, 25 at 7:30 p.m., Fri., Sept. 26 at 8:00 p.m. and Sat., Sept. 27 at 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. at the Margaret Jensen Theatre in Gordon's Barrington Center for the Arts, just thirty minutes north of Boston.

"Why this play? It shows the tensions inherent in genetic cloning, an issue which is certainly on people's minds today," Miller said. "And Churchill is such a fine playwright. She can take difficult abstract issues and make them concrete. Her theatre brings a human component to some of science's more controversial issues."

Set some time in the future, A Number is the story of a father (played by Gordon theatre professor, Norman Jones) who has experienced a difficult loss in his family. When his son (played by Paul Turbiak, a Gordon alum '05, and recent graduate of the California Institute of the Arts MFA Acting Program) sees someone who looks like him, he begins to question his father's past. As the story unravels, the possibility that there might be more than one son emerges.

"The reality that sneaks into this conversation is troubling. It gets a little creepy, not like the X-files," Miller said, "but creepy because the complications are a little too real, too true to life. The son begins to ask a question that we're all forced to ask, 'What would happen if you ran into yourself?'"

A Number is part of a week long series of events honoring technology entrepreneur, Ken Olsen, whose vision and generosity made it possible for Gordon College to expand its science departments with a new state of the art, environmentally-sound center. After each performance of the play, audiences will be invited to stay for panel discussions with various scientists, philosophers, artists and theologians from the Gordon community.

As the keynote speaker for the week's events, Dr. Francis Collins, former director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, will be addressing some of the same issues raised in A Number in his lecture entitled, "Genomics and the Human Condition" at MacDonald Auditorium, Saturday, Sept. 27, at 11 a.m. as part of the Ken Olsen Science Center dedication.

Tickets for A Number are $10 each and can be purchased online or at the box office.
To request an interview or additional information, please contact the Office of College Communications at 978.867.4235.


Gordon College is a Christian college of the liberal arts and sciences on Boston's North Shore. The college offers majors in 37 fields and has graduate programs in education and music education. Leading the way in Christian college merit, Gordon is nationally ranked for its excellence in academics and its role in character building. These achievements recognize Gordon as one of the nation's top Christian colleges.