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Chicago Premiere

The Hard Problem

by Tom Stoppard
Directed by Charles Newell

Mar 09, 2017 — Apr 09, 2017

“The ideas fly at you fast and furiously, in the most intellectually exciting way”
-Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

“Great fun… every one of Stoppard’s notions snap, crackle and pop in ways alternately funny, sexy, poignant and playfully provocative”
-Hedy Weiss, Sun-Times

Court Theatre is proud to bring award-winning and renowned playwright Tom Stoppard’s highly-anticipated new play to Chicago. His new work introduces Hilary, a young psychologist working at the prestigious Krohl Institute for Brain Science. She struggles to bear the burden of her regrets as she works through a troubling issue in her research. Where does our biology end and our personhood begin? If there is nothing but matter, what is consciousness? Will the computer someday answer all questions psychology can ask? This “hard problem” sets Hilary at odds with her colleagues, but she prays for a miracle to lead her to the solutions.

The Hard Problem is directed by Charles Newell, Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director, and features Chaon Cross.

Listen to director Charles Newell being interviewed on WGN Radio News’ “The Download with Justin Kaufmann” about directing a work by Tom Stoppard, the relationships he has with the great playwrights of our time, and what makes Chicago a great theater town.

The 2016/17 Season is sponsored by Barbara and Richard Franke.

The Hard Problem is sponsored by

Nuveen Investments logo Michael Charles Litt
Download Program

Banner photo of (l-r) Jürgen Hooper, Brian McCaskill, Emjoy Gavino, Owais Ahmed, Chaon Cross, Kate Fry, Celeste M. Cooper by Michael Brosilow.

Artistic Team



Articles and Interviews

The Hard Problem: Where Life and Art Intersect

For much of his life, Tom Stoppard knew relatively little about his family’s origins and the events of his early childhood. The established details of his biography began when he was eight years old, in 1946, the year he moved from India to England with his Czechoslovakian mother, Martha, a Catholic. Martha recently had married a British Army officer, Major Kenneth Stoppard. She brought two sons from a previous marriage to this new union, eager for her children to start life in a new country.

Q&A: Tom Stoppard

A brief Q&A with playwright Tom Stoppard about consciousness, the financial crisis, and altruism.

Do You Identify with Hilary?

Considering the intellectual complexity of this play, The Hard Problem artistic team was extremely grateful to work with faculty members that bring a diverse range of expertise to the rehearsal process. We took a moment to ask these scholars about whether or not they identify with the play’s protagonist, Hilary.

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