Ramanujan: Billington, let me explain. One plus two equals three.
Billington: I know that.
Ramanujan: And one plus one plus one equals three. And three plus zero equals three.
Billington: Don’t look at me with such concern. I’m not a donkey.
Ramanujan: That gives us three different ways to add up integers to equal three. These are partitions. The number of partitions of the number three is…three.
Billington: I’m ready for the climax.
The topic of math is impossible to avoid in the rehearsal room. However, for those with severe allergic reactions to numbers and algebraic symbols, please don’t run away. Shunya’s latest production Partition isn’t all math. It’s actually about you.
Maybe you don’t work with numbers on a daily basis, but you definitely work with partitions. How many ways can you partition a group of friends or co-workers or students or sports teams or foods or movies or songs or whatever? There may not be a formula for this, but it’s something we seem to do automatically and systematically. It’s a continual process of differentiation and separation.
This process is necessary to establish identity. I am Sara, and you are not. I am from Neptune, and you are from Earth. And so on.
Although we are constantly drawing lines, we are also simultaneously forming threads of connection between different people and ideas. These connections are also needed to establish identity. I belong to a family of nuts. This innermost circle establishes my identity in many ways.
At its core, Partition is a play about characters (dead and living, divine and mundane, brilliant and broken) who just like us are struggling to draw lines and circles on a stage.
Over the past few weeks, as a cast and crew, we have experienced the partitions that divide us: ethnicity, age, religion, occupation, etc. But we are bounded by something more than a script now. We are bending the lines and turning them into newly fashioned loops. We hope you will join us in August and bring your own numbers, words, and colors to our stage.