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About The Hard Problem

"The Hard Problem", Tom Stoppard’s first new play in nine years, explores the mystery of consciousness and the limits of knowledge, with Stoppard’s usual panache, humor and curiosity.

Hillary is a young researcher at the Krohl Institute for Brain Science where psychology and biology meet. As she nurses a private sorrow, she wonders if there can be genuine altruism without a hidden Darwinian self-interest. To heal old wounds, she needs a miracle and is prepared to pray for one. Directed by Jack O’Brien.

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Hilary has always contemplated the hard problem of consciousness: Do humans act selfishly in a calculated fashion or do they lead with their heart and act on impulse — much like herself? And now that she’s been hired as a psychology researcher at the Krohl Institute for Brain Science, the question consumes her. Her obsession with purity and unpredictability stems from her past, as she got pregnant as a teenager and gave the baby up for adoption. Now, each night, she prays for her long-lost daughter’s well-being.

As Tom Stoppard’s “The Hard Problem” plays out, situations arise (like the meeting of an adopted little girl the same age her daughter would be) that make Hilary believe fate has intervened all thanks to her good nature. The new play, which transfers to New York City following its 2015 premiere in London, examines if genuine altruism exists or if humans act with a Darwinian self-interest at heart.

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What To Watch For

  • “The Hard Problem” marks the first Broadway reunion of playwright Tom Stoppard and director Jack O’Brien since their Tony-winning production of “The Coast of Utopia.”
  • The play premiered in 2015 at London’s National Theatre under the direction of “One Man, Two Guvnors” director Nicholas Hytner.
  • “The Hard Problem” is Stoppard’s first full-length play in nine years.

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Run Time

TBD

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