We recently sat down with Heidi Powers, director of our first 2019 main stage production, Ada and the Engine, to get to know her a little better. Here’s what she had to say!
*Tell us a bit about yourself and your involvement in the local theatre scene. Where have we seen your work?
I wear a lot of different hats in the Los Angeles theatre community. I’m most known for co-writing musicals (like Bronies: The Musical) as well as producing and marketing (including Fancy: Secrets from my Bootydoir) but my longest-running passion for the medium is as a director. I hold a BFA in directing from the University of Michigan.
*Tell us about this script; what impressed you and made you want to do this show?
Heidi Powers, director of Ada and the Engine
From the moment I opened Lauren Gunderson‘s script, I knew it was something special. Her language just… dances off the page. One thing that dazzles me in particular is how she captures the way each person’s rhythm changes from relationship to relationship. Thematically, Gunderson hits a really cathartic spot for me, as well; I’m always hunting for the balance between the artistic and the analytical, and I love the way this play embraces both.
*Give us a sneak peek at the production. What are you excited to show audiences with Ada and the Engine?
Ada was passionate about music and its power to transport, and Gunderson’s play whisks us swiftly through decades and experiences (and even planes of existence!). So our production uses music and movement to weave it all together. Our exceptional cast is working with our choreographer, Roger Fojas, to workshop pieces inspired by the machines that Babbage and Lovelace dreamed up, and I can’t wait to share those visions with our audience.
*Share your thoughts on Ada herself. What were you surprised to learn about her?
I had certainly heard about Ada before reading the play, but I was genuinely shocked to discover that she was born Ada Byron. Yes, THAT Lord Byron was her father! I was also stunned that her mother, embittered by Byron’s… Byron-ness… pushed Ada into mathematics as a means of controlling her daughter’s wild side. While much of that “wild” side was her creativity and her fiery personal agency, Ada really did have a fiery streak… whether she was attempting to elope with a tutor, racking up horse-racing debts, even (gasp!) secretly writing poetry. She certainly was her father’s child, no matter how her mother tried to prevent it.
*Speaking of surprises, what don’t we know about you? Any hobbies, skills, obsessions you’d care to share?
When I’m not directing or writing (or doing marketing and publicity for the studios) I’m usually indulging in a new creative hobby. I find that the best way to keep my artistic juices coursing is to learn to make something else entirely. I’ve dabbled in graphic design, embroidery, lifestyle blogging and zentangle doodling, but this year I’m mastering the art of royal icing. There’s something soothing about watching a jumbled drizzle smooth itself into a perfectly smooth surface. If you visit concessions at the show, perhaps you’ll even get to try the fruits of my labor!
TU ensemble member and Resident Sound Designer Graydon Schlichter has released his latest audiobook, the unabridged rendition of acclaimed author Staci Layne Wilson’s City of Devils: 13 Tales of the Uncanny, Unlucky & Unholy: A horror anthology. Set in an around the infamous City of Angels, the tales contained in this volume boil down to this, “Los Angeles and Lucifer are a lot alike. They both seduce and lure with promises of wealth, fame, beauty or love. But those promises are often empty; and even when they’re not, there’s a price to pay.” And readers have been enjoying these creepy tales. “From the Lynchian, almost dreamlike poignancy of Tasty Waves to the gut-wrenching Lansdalian endings of the lead-off story He Was Asking for It and its follow-up Based on a True Story, Wilson pulls absolutely no punches.”
For those familiar with LA’s foibles and fascinations you’ll recognize “the anxieties, stresses, passion, humour and outright horror of living the lifestyle” of Southern California that pepper this “delightfully dark and fun” collection. As one reader put it, “Staci Layne Wilson has once again written a page turner of horror stories set in the real city of devils, which she knows so well. Shades of Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King and even Dashiell Hammett permeate through the book. The stories are smart, sassy, seductive and scary.” And now established fans and newcomers alike can grab the audiobook collection of these chilling vignettes to enjoy for themselves.
About Graydon Schlichter
Graydon Schlichter has loved audiobooks almost since before he could easily pronounce the term. Declaring at the age of six that “one day that’ll be me on the tape” he got it mostly correct. Although… actual tapes are pretty rare these days. As a voice over artist, Graydon has happily recorded cranky gnomes, gruff soldiers, helpful handy folks, and others, but rare is the time when he isn’t part way through one narration or another.
For the Los Angeles Horror Anthology completionist, you can check out Hell Comes to Hollywood and the cleverly titled sequel Hell Comes to Hollywood 2 the latter featuring an original short story by Mr. Schlichter himself titled This is a Recording, both collections co-narrated by Ms. Jennifer Knighton. Leaving LA behind, take to the open road in 18 Wheels of Horror, once again featuring the talents of Ms. Knighton.
If Lovecraftian horror is more you style, don’t miss The Drinker of Suffering, by A. M. F. This disturbing, modern tale centers on one person’s search for meaning and greater Truth. The descends into the swirling darkness he discovers at the edges of everything he thought he knew. Pulp lovers might enjoy the Nick Caine Adventures, beginning with Temple of the Jaguar. An action packed romp through deepest jungle co-written, by Aiden James, and J. R. Rain. The classic thriller enthusiast should look up In Their Blood, by Sharon Potts. A chilling story of accidental death that begins to unravel into something…more. Find these and all of Graydon’s titles on Amazon, Audible and itunes, or by clicking the links above.
About Staci Layne Wilson
Staci Layne Wilson is an award-winning filmmaker Cabaret of the Dead, Psycho Therapy, The Night Plays Tricks and an Amazon #1 bestselling author So L.A. – A Hollywood Memoir. She wrote, produced and hosted three entertainment talk shows online: This Week In Movies, Inside Horror, and Dread Central Live. She has been featured on the BBC, Bravo, Reelz, M-TV, CNN (and many more) as a film historian and author.
Heidi Powers directs this unique introspective on the intriguing relationship between pioneers Ada Byron Lovelace and Charles Babbage at the dawn of the computer age.
LOS ANGELES – While director Heidi Powers knew about Ada Byron’s Lovelace contribution to the birth of the modern computer, she was stunned to discover that not only was Ada Lord Byron’s daughter, but that she was also an accomplished poet and musician. “I love how she tried to embrace both her artistic and analytical sides,” Powers said. “I think that humanity’s most powerful inventions come from the combination of the arts and sciences.”
The complexity of Ada, her relationships and her many contributions to both of those worlds are at the heart of Lauren Gunderson’s acclaimed play Ada and the Engine, presented by Theatre Unleashed and playing March 21-31 at studio/stage in Los Angeles.
As the British Industrial Revolution dawns, young Ada Byron Lovelace sees the boundless creative potential in the “analytic engines” of her friend and soulmate, Charles Babbage, inventor of the first mechanical computer. Ada envisions a whole new world where art and information converge––a world she might not live to see. It’s a music-laced story of love, friendship, and the edgiest dreams of the future. Jane Austen meets Steve Jobs in this poignant pre-tech romance heralding the computer age.
“When I discovered Lauren Gunderson’s beautiful script, I knew it was the perfect show to not only kick off the 2019 season but also begin the next chapter for Theatre Unleashed,” said Co-Artistic Director Jenn Scuderi Crafts. “Backed with Heidi’s incredible directorial vision, this production will be a huge step forward in our company’s artistic journey.”
Co-Artistic Director Jacob Smith echoed those sentiments. “The first I saw of Heidi’s work was a few years ago, when I saw Bronies: The Musical, which she wrote and produced, and I’ve wanted to work with her ever since,” he said. “Between the hyper-talented cast, visionary director, and the all-star design team and crew, this show is going to be amazing on all levels.”
Beyond the fascinating exploration of the short life of Ada and her dynamic relationship with Babbage, the play also features quite a few surprises, including a rather unexpected finale that promises to leave patrons talking. With this production, Powers is also hoping to inspire.
“Ada’s mother had urged her into mathematics as a way to control the ‘wildness’ she inherited from her absentee father,” Powers said. “Today we’d define that wildness as creativity, or agency, or curiosity…and they’re the kinds of qualities I’d like to encourage in all young women.”
SYNOPSIS: As the British Industrial Revolution dawns, young Ada Byron Lovelace (daughter of the flamboyant and notorious Lord Byron) sees the boundless creative potential in the “analytic engines” of her friend and soulmate, Charles Babbage, inventor of the first mechanical computer. Ada envisions a whole new world where art and information converge––a world she might not live to see. It’s a music-laced story of love, friendship, and the edgiest dreams of the future. Jane Austen meets Steve Jobs in this poignant pre-tech romance heralding the computer age.
DATES AND TIMES: March 21-31
Thursdays and Fridays – 8 p.m.
Saturdays – 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Sundays – 7 p.m.
520 N. Western Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90004
Ada and the Engine director Heidi Powers has come up with some incredible Ada Lovelace-themed Valentines! Grab one and send it to that special someone in your life with whom you share a mutual attraction, but etiquette and societal expectations mean you’ll never be able to express your true feelings for one another. You know who we’re talking about.
As the British Industrial Revolution dawns, young Ada Byron Lovelace (daughter of the flamboyant and notorious Lord Byron) sees the boundless creative potential in the “analytic engines” of her friend and soul-mate, Charles Babbage, inventor of the first mechanical computer. Ada envisions a whole new world where art and information converge – a world she might not live to see. A music-laced story of love, friendship, and the edgiest dreams of the future. Jane Austen meets Steve Jobs in this poignant pre-tech romance heralding the computer age.
By day, Heidi is a mild-mannered entertainment marketing and copywriting guru for the film industry. By night, she and her partners fight crime [where fight=write and crime=musicals.] She’s a third of musical team Greene/Powers/Moore; their Bronies! The Musical premiered at Hollywood Fringe where it won Best Musical. Third Street Theatre mounted a full production and an original cast album currently available on iTunes. The trio also wrote The Real Housekeepers of Studio City, and are developing Dahlia: A Los Angeles Musical, about the life of Elizabeth Short. Powers and Moore also collaborate on plays, screenplays, and one marriage. Their scripts for supernatural comedy Something Old and noir/children’s pilot Bubble Gumshoe were 2016 Page Awards semifinalists.
“This list is of the entertainment industry’s best liked Bechdel Test passing scripts. The test is a very low bar to pass where 2 named women talk to each other about something other than a man. This list is here to encourage more inclusive story-telling and better dialogue on the page and in real life.”
A full list of this year’s scripts can be found here.
About CJ Hoke
CJ graduated from the University of Chicago in 2013 with double honors in unemployment French Language & Literatures and Theatre & Performance Studies. By day, she works as the script coordinator for ABC Daytime’s General Hospital. Otherwise, she’s best known for her five episodes of PencilInk Film’s award-winning dramady webseries, The Misselthwaite Archives, including one of the series’ most popular episodes, “The Secret”. Check out her website!
About Production Choice
Production Choice tells the story of an aging soap opera star who finds out she’s being replaced and decides to fight back to secure her legacy. It has placed in multiple competitions, including 1st Runner-Up in the 2017 Second City Training Center Original Sitcom Pilot Competition, 2nd Runner-Up (Comedy) in the 2018 Assistant List (A-List) Competition, Finalist in the 2017 WeScreenplay Television Competition, Quarter-Finalist in the 2018 Creative World Awards (Original Television Sitcom), Quarter-Finalist in the 5th Annual Screencraft Screenwriting Fellowship, Quarter-Finalist in 2017 Final Draft Big Break Contest (Television, Half-Hour Pilot), Top 100 Script in 2017 Emerging Screenwriters Feature/Pilot Competition, and Second Rounder in the 2018 Austin Film Festival Comedy Teleplay Competition. Rights are available.