Arcadia

Definition

Theater

  • A play by Tom Stoppard, which opened at London's Royal National Theatre in 1993; the production, which was directed by Trevor Nunn, later transferred to the West End and Broadway. The action, with alternate scenesin the first decade of the 19th century and the last decade of the 20th, takes place in the same room of an English stately home. Thomasina, the young daughter of the 19th-century family, has a precocious gift for mathematics thatleads her to anticipate aspects of modern chaos theory. This is considered prophetic by all but Valentine, her 20th-century kinsman, a mathematician preoccupied with the study of variations in a population of grouse. In the 19thcentury, Lord Byron visits from his nearby home, Newstead Abbey; in the 20th,the consequences of this visit are plausibly but chaotically misinterpreted by Bernard, a visiting English don. Meanwhile another visiting writer, Hannah, ispreoccupied with an ultimately successful search for the identity of the mysterious hermit who occupied the hermitage in the park. Elements of high comedyand glimpses of a tragic love story are interspersed with expositions of the design and layout of English parklands and the influence of the Second Law of Thermodynamics on Newtonian mechanics.
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