Isaac's Eye

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Isaac Newton once stuck a needle into his tear duct to try to figure out how the eye sees light. This is true. He really did that. But still, really? Did he really have to do that? Isaac's Eye playfully blends the facts of Newton's life with an equal dose fiction to explore what great people are willing to sacrifice to become great people.

Isaac's Eye
Isaac's Eye

Read Sample

ROBERT
Look. I didn't come out here to bring you down.
To make you feel like shit.
To take the wind out of your sails.
To make you think that everything you thought is wrong.
To make you feel like you shouldn't pursue a career in Natural Philosophy.
To make you feel like you should give up and be a farmer.
To make you feel like you've wasted your time.
To make you want to go out and take your papers and all your notes and toss them into a giant fire.
Watch them burn.

But what I am saying is that you should slow down, take your time, explore many different ideas,
and then maybe come back to us in 10 or even 20 years,
and then let's see what you've done.

ISAAC
You didn't ask me if I proved that light was made of particles.

ROBERT
Excuse me?

ISAAC
You assumed I didn't because my story didn't say anything about it.

ROBERT
... Alright. Did you prove it?

ISAAC
I proved it definitely for sure.

ROBERT
Then why didn't you say that in your story?

ISAAC
I dunno. Guess I forgot.

ROBERT
Uh-huh.

ISAAC
I forgot.

ROBERT
And how did you prove it?

ISAAC
... It would be a big deal if I proved it, right? It would mean that what I'm working on is correct,
and what you're doing is wrong. That would be a big deal if what I'm doing -- I'm not sure if this is the right word – surpasses what you've done in the same field. Surpasses the work of someone so accomplished as yourself. That would be a big deal, right?

ROBERT
... I'm not sure I would use the word "surpass."

ISAAC
But would that be a big deal if I proved it?

ROBERT
... Yes.
(beat)
How did you prove it?

ISAAC
I put a needle in my eye.

ROBERT
Are you fucking with me?

ISAAC
I put a needle in my eye.

ROBERT
No you didn't.

ISAAC
No yeah I did. I slid it in right here...

(Points to his tear duct.)

ROBERT
You're fucking with me.

ISAAC
That was the test. I put it in the tear duct.

ROBERT
How's that a test?

ISAAC
... Are you saying that you don't understand the test?
(beat)
If you understood the test, you'd know I wasn't messing with you.

ROBERT
I understand the test.

ISAAC
Good.

(Very LONG PAUSE, as ROBERT tries "get" the test.)

If there are colors in light. If all colors are in light.
And if light is particles, then how those particles hit the eye, make the colors you see.
But if how the particles hit the eye changes, then the colors would change.
Stick a needle in your eye and bend the eye with the needle
so like you're squishing the eyeball with the needle

ROBERT
Yeah...

ISAAC
That changes the shape of the eye and then that changes how the particles hit the eye. So if you change the shape of the eye and the colors you see change, then light must be made of particles. And when I did it, the colors changed. Light is made of particles, end of story.

ROBERT
You didn't do that.

ISAAC
I did.

ROBERT
How did you not pop your eye?

ISAAC
I was careful.

ROBERT
Bullshit.

ISAAC
Don't believe me, do it yourself.

ROBERT
...I have no problem doing the experiment myself.

ISAAC
Then do it. Look. Here's a needle.
(correction)
Here's the needle. The one I did it with.
(ISAAC hands ROBERT the needle.)
I did my work. I did my experiment, and because I did my experiment, I showed that light might be, could be made up of particles.y

Cast Requirements

3 men
1 woman

Set Description

Unit

Honors

2012 Whitfield Cook Prize

Production and Development History

Production: Ensemble Studio Theatre, January 30 - February 24, 2013.

Commissioned: EST/Sloan Foundation Project.

Workshops: 2010 First Light Festival, 2011 Southampton Writers Conference.