5 Questions with Alex Knox, our Charles Babbage in Ada and the Engine

5 Questions with Alex Knox, our Charles Babbage in Ada and the Engine

This week, we sit down with Alex Knox, who plays Charles Babbage in our production of Ada and the Engine, now extended through April 7th at studio/stage!

Tell us a little about yourself and theatre/film/TV background. Where have we seen you before?

Alex Knox, playing Charles Babbage in <i>Ada and the Engine</i>, now extended through April 7th!

Alex Knox, playing Charles Babbage in Ada and the Engine, now extended through April 7th!

I was on stage most recently as Young Ebenezer in A Christmas Carol at South Coast Repertory South Coast Repertoryin Orange County. The production has been running for 39 seasons and I’ve been involved in the last five (and also one other time, in 1995, when I played Peter Cratchit as a kid!). I performed my solo show No Static At All at the Hollywood Fringe in 2013. You can also hear me narrating audiobooks on Audible.com.

Check out some of Alex’s audiobooks!

Tell us a bit about your character. What have you learned about them in this process? What’s most fascinating about their personalities? What makes them tick?

Charles Babbage is fascinating! He was brilliant and famous in his time, and yet he struggled to finish many of his greatest inventions (such as the Analytical Engine). I’ve been interested in what caused that – was it fear of seeing how his creations would fare once they were actually put to use? Or was he simply too ahead of his time? I also love the letters he exchanged with Ada Lovelace. You can really see how much he cares about her in the way he writes.

Jessie Sherman as Ada Lovelace and Alex Knox as Charles Babbage in <i>Ada and the Engine</i> by Lauren Gunderson

Jessie Sherman as Ada Lovelace and Alex Knox as Charles Babbage in Ada and the Engine by Lauren Gunderson. Photo by Matt Kamimura.

Talk a bit about your favorite parts of the process, both in terms of your character work and the production in general. Give us a sneak peek behind the scenes.

I adore working with this team. Heidi Powers creates a rehearsal room that is playful and encourages us to take risks. It’s the best kind of environment for making art! The cast is amazing, and it’s especially fun to work with Jessie Sherman who’s a dear friend from my college theater program (UC Santa Barbara).

Jessie Sherman as Ada Lovelace and Alex Knox as Charles Babbage in <i>Ada and the Engine</i> by Lauren Gunderson. Photo by Matt Kamimura.

Jessie Sherman as Ada Lovelace and Alex Knox as Charles Babbage in Ada and the Engine by Lauren Gunderson. Photo by Matt Kamimura.

 

 

Who are some of your personal heroes and why?

Alex Knox as Lord Byron in Tennessee Williams' <i>Camino Real</i>

Alex Knox as Lord Byron in Tennessee Williams’ Camino Real

I’ve been fascinated for a while with Lord Byron. I played Byron in a production of Tennessee Williams’ <i>Camino Real</i>, and found it amazing that he became famous for his poetry. I love imagining a time when poets were famous like rock stars. Byron was the quintessential Romantic, indulging in his passions and lusts, and yet his poem “She Walks in Beauty” is about a very deep, almost reverent love for a mysterious woman he saw at a funeral. I think that poem reveals a different side of Byron. I love how that poem is so central to our play, too – to me, it sums up Babbage’s love for Ada.

 

Why is this story so important to tell? What do you most hope audiences get from this production?

Aside from being a gripping, funny, heartbreaking tale, I think our show is important because it gives the spotlight to an incredible woman, Ada Lovelace, who is finally getting her due as a visionary and pioneer in the field of computer science. She’s an inspiration to me, not only because she was a female in a field (and time) dominated by men, but because she looked at things in a unique way. She saw possibilities where other geniuses (like Babbage) couldn’t. We can all be inspired by her ability to look for ways to make the impossible possible.

Ada and the Engine must close April 7th. Get your tickets now!

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