A Chance Encounter, Romance and Uncertainty in DTC’s Heisenberg

DTC’s Executive Director Bud Martin stars with Karen Peakes in Heisenberg

Why do we do the things we do?

It’s a simple question but one with multiple answers. And that’s where it gets complicated. People have used scientific theory to try and help understand the multiple answers to this question for years.

It is also a subject that has intrigued many writers of film and theater.

Though it doesn’t always feel comfortable, it’s theater’s duty to question its surroundings, society, the world and its rules. Sometimes it provides profound answers like “it’s up to you” or “the debate will never end.” However, in some rare cases, we’ll get the answer “we just don’t know.”

For the first time, the DTC has arranged onstage seating so the audience is as close as possible to everything happening in the show

Delaware Theatre Company’s production, “Heisenberg,” on stage through February 25, addresses just that. Playwright Simon Stephens uses Heisenberg’s Theory of Uncertainty to help us process life’s unpredictability, pointing and prodding at the undefinable, mocking the definable when “we just don’t know.”

Some films, like “A Beautiful Mind,” “The Imitation Game,” or “The Theory of Everything” are human dramas that have focused on the scientists more than their theories.

“A Beautiful Mind” is a 2001 American biographical drama film based on the life of John Nash, a Nobel Laureate in Economics who develops paranoid schizophrenia and endures delusional episodes while painfully watching the loss and burden his condition brings to his wife and friends.

Others, like the play “Constellations,” make use of a character that studies the “quantum multiverse:” “Every decision you have ever and never made exists in an unimaginably vast ensemble of parallel universes.”

Why do things turn out the way they do, and what could have been different? You don’t have to be Stephen Hawking to have applied this idea to your own experience.

The play “Copenhagen” by Michael Frayn, presented at Delaware Theatre Company a number of years ago, is based on an event that occurred in Copenhagen in 1941, a meeting between the physicists Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg.

During the play, Heisenberg and Bohr “draft” several versions of their 1941 exchange, arguing about the ramifications of each potential version of their meeting and the motives behind it. They discuss the idea of nuclear power and its control, the rationale behind building or not building an atomic bomb, the uncertainty of the past and the inevitability of the future as embodiments of themselves acting as particles drifting through the atom that is Copenhagen.

The play “Heisenberg” is a portrait of a couple acting and reacting to each other, registering the changes that occur with each encounter, each revelation, each spoken word.

Heisenberg begins in present-day London at a train station, where Georgie walks up to Alex, a man previously unknown to her, and kisses him on the neck

No one in “Heisenberg” utters the scientist’s name. But the two characters, Georgie and Alex, articulate in their own plain-spoken languages, personal corresponding theories about the elements that combine and collide to shape their lives, including their own indeterminate selves.

In a discussion about why her son has left her, Georgie, referencing his scientific theory without citing Heisenberg’s name, says, “If you watch something closely enough you realize you have no possible way of telling where it is going or how fast it’s getting there … If you pay attention to where it’s going or how fast it’s moving, you stop watching it properly. I watched him all the time. He took me completely by surprise.”
Like “Constellations” and “Copenhagen,” Heisenberg is a probing work that considers the multiplicity of alternatives that could shape our lives at every moment. This uncertainty and unpredictability can be frightening, especially to us human beings that like to control things that we can’t.
Stephens encourages us, through his characters, to allow what is going to happen to happen, and let our shoulders down and live. As the character of Alex says, “Music doesn’t exist in the notes.  It exists in the space between two notes.”
If we can live in that space, it might be the start of the most remarkable adventure that two human beings can do together and affect astonishing changes in themselves and each other.
To allow the audience to experience “Heisenberg” more fully, DTC has created a small, intimate playing space and put all seating on stage.  With a 20-foot-by-20-foot playing space and only 186 seats, the audience will exist in a “parallel universe” with the actors.
And in a rare move, I am performing the role of Alex with Karen Peakes as Georgie. It’s only the second time in 37 years that I have starred in a production, another reason the experience of seeing “Heisenberg’ is sure to be unpredictable.  
“Life begins at the end of our comfort zone.” (Neale Donald Walsch)
Top two photos Matt Urban, New Mobus Media
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About the Contributor

Bud Martin

Bud Martin

Bud Martin is in his fifth season as Executive and Artistic Director at Delaware Theatre Company. Previous directing credits at DTC include: WHITE GUY ON THE BUS (recent transfer to NYC), THE WAR OF THE ROSES, THE EXPLORERS CLUB, (4 Barrymore noms.), PUTTING IT TOGETHER (with the DSO), LOVE LETTERS, REST IN PIECES, THE STORY OF MY LIFE, LEND ME A TENOR, ANY GIVEN MONDAY, SOUTH PACIFIC, and THE OUTGOING TIDE. He has produced extensively On and Off- Broadway and on London’s West End. He received his MA in Theatre from Villanova University and is a member of the The Broadway and The Off-Broadway Leagues.


  • Última actualización: febrero 14, 2018 4:32 am Funko pop de Heisenberg Heinsenberg no es más que el alterego de Walter; es decir, cómo otra personalidad. A lo largo de la serie veremos menos de Walter y más de Heisenberg, hasta que finalmente termine convertido en él. Tenemos un primer funko pop de Heisenberg en el que parece con su gorro negro, gafas de sol, pistola y una muestra de la característica metanfetamina azul que cocina.

  • Big ego Bud Martin must have removed the comments to the article he wrote praising himself of the play he starred in at the theater that he runs! Does any of this seem crazy to the readers of this website.

    What kind of integrity does the Town Square Delaware have when they have this man wrote his own story and then they take down the comments from several people that clearly have opinions about the man who casted himself in a play?

  • This doesn’t surprise me, Bud writing his own review. I attended the play and thought it was good. Although, Bud should stick with managing the theater, his debut back on the stage was ok, at best. It would have been nice to see a new face on that stage. Give someone a shot at acting instead of taking the role from someone else. People need to know their place in this world. He probably thinks the world revolves around him.

  • It looks like Bud Martin must advertise on this website as I see advertisements for Heisenberg through this website. There is no journalistic integrity with blogs like this one.

    As a former employee of The News Journal, we would avoid having a business leader (whether “non” or “for“ profit) compose their own “advertorial” like this one. This seems to be at odds with journalistic integrity. (Especially the deletion/selective censoring of comments).

    I happen to enjoy the theater, but was mildly disturbed by Bud Martin making this show about himself and not about the story or the stage he manages.

  • It is obvious that Bud Martin is an aspiring actor and we should applaud him for his efforts to get back on stage. You are never too old to chase your dreams.

    It is equally troubling to read here and on other websites Bud Martin’s self-aggrandizing of his “success”.

    It is most concerning that Town Square Delaware, a website I generally respect, would allow him to pen his own article and censor others from commenting.

  • @jane I could not have said it any better. Has Town Sq Delaware ever have the Director of The Grand write their own reviews? The Children’s Playhouse? Or do they only let the folks that advertise take a pen to paper?

    As for Mr. Martin, I think the results are fairly clear, the Delaware Theater Company is in need of financial help. Maybe this is one way Mr. Martin is trying to help out and taking center stage. It might be better if he spent less time promoting himself and more time promoting the theater.

  • Bud Martin finally has his spotlight and he probably wished someone would turn the light switch off. I witnessed Bud’s performance the other night to a relatively empty theater. I decided to purchase these tickets not because of the advertisements, nor was it due to the rave reviews, but I decided to attend based on this column and the ensuing comments. I was curious to see what others have said (or not said) as I have been a friend of the theater company, along with my partner, for many years. In fact my employer is an active sponsor and is always pushing the shows.

    I didn’t think his performance was so bad, but it did feel a little bit like I was watching man who won a silent auction to appear on a stage, only to realize, people forgot to show up. I can’t tell if his acting is worthy of an award, but I applaud his effort to take over the stage of the theater he runs.

    I also didn’t realize, according to my employer, that this theater is going through some tough financial times and needs the support of the community. Perhaps, Bud’s desire to appear in the stage is due to the fact that they cannot afford to pay other actors or spend on elaborate sets? There is one show that I really enjoyed; Diner. Why can’t the theater put on more of those shows? In fact, after attending Diner three times, i became reengaged with the theater. Over the past two seasons, the plays are not that interesting.

    I hope Bud and the theater company can look beyond one man’s ego and start producing shows that are worthy of individual and corporate sponsorships.

    Finally, I am an avid reader of this website and enjoy the work that Christy and Michael Fleming do to make Delaware a more knowledgeable citizenry. They too might learn from their mistake with the selective deletion of previous comments and, worse off, the advertisement/content connection. Thank you TSD for your hard work.

  • I hope this production did not cost too much as I was one of a few people in the audience this past weekend. I do not know the actors, but thought the play was long and quite boring. I found myself reading facebook throughout the performance. It appears that my life and my friends are more entertaining than this play.

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