
Ada and the Engine (2015) 
 Lauren Gunderson 

For Lauren Gunderson, whose plays all seem to be about emotionally potent mathematical subjects, a study of Ada Lovelace seems like a natural choice. Born Ada Byron (the daughter of the scandalous poet... (more) 


The Adding Machine (1923) 
 Elmer Rice 

This highly symbolic play tells the life, death, afterlife, and
rebirth of Zero, a mildmannered nobody who is hoping to get a raise
for twenty five years of loyal service as a clerk doing addition... (more) 


Albert's Bridge (1967) 
 Tom Stoppard 

A radio play about a philosophy graduate student who gets a job painting the Clufton Bay Bridge. It takes him and three other workers exactly two years to paint the entire bridge, at which time they must... (more) 


Arcadia (1993) 
 Tom Stoppard 

Stoppard's critically successful play includes long discussions of topics of
mathematical interest including: Fermat's Last Theorem and Newtonian
determinism, iterated algorithms, the second law of thermodynamics,
Fourier's... (more) 


Archimedes, a planetarium opera (2007) 
 James Dashow 

Opera, as in people singing and music playing, and not the
usual Latin for "works".
James Dashow has been scripting, composing, and recording
Archimedes, a "planetarium opera" for the past ten years.
It's... (more) 


Art Thou Mathematics? (1978) 
 Charles Mobbs 

Short story (Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, October 1978 Vol. 98 No 10) concerning the very nature of mathematical discovery. It was later rewritten in the form of a play, which the author has... (more) 


The Auden Test (2016) 
 Lawrence Aronovitch


A short play in which poet W.H. Auden delivers a speech in 1954 on the same day that he learns of the death of his friend, mathematician Alan Turing. Although they were contemporaries, I'm not aware of... (more) 


Back to Methuselah (1921) 
 George Bernard Shaw 

In this notverystageable play in five parts, Shaw expounds on
mankind and the theory of evolution, from Adam and Eve in the
Garden of Eden to a paradise world 30,000 years in the future.
It turns... (more) 


The Birds (BC414) 
 Aristophanes 

In one scene of this classic Greek play, the geometer Meton appears
and...well, it's pretty short. So why should I summarize it when I can
simply reproduce it here!
(Enter
METON, With surveying... (more) 


The Blue Door (2006) 
 Tanya Barfield 

A successful AfricanAmerican mathematics professor who has tried to ignore racism and its implications for his life is visited by the memories of three dead relatives during a sleepless night in this... (more) 


Breaking the Code (1986) 
 Hugh Whitemore (playwright) 

This biography of Alan Turing is a "character study" of this
fascinating mathematician. Although we do see some mathematics (including
an especially nice description of Gödel's Theorem and its mathematical
significance)... (more) 


Calculus (Newton's Whores) (2004) 
 Carl Djerassi 

The credit for the invention of calculus has long been contested, being claimed by both Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz. A committee established by the Royal Society in 1712 concluded that Newton was... (more) 


Le Cas de Sophie K. (2005) 
 JeanFrangois Peyret (playwright and director) 

This play about Sofya Kovalevskaya emphasizes her nihilistic leanings (as expressed in Kovalevskaya's own fiction). The production featured unusual modern staging, such as having three actresses portraying... (more) 


The Chosen (1967) 
 Chaim Potok 

In Chaim Potok's classic novel about two Jewish teenagers growing up in New York City at the end of World War II, one of the two boys expresses an interest in symbolic logic:
'What kind of mathematics... (more) 


Completeness (2011) 
 Itamar Moses 

This play, currently in production at New York's Playwrights Horizons Mainstage Theater, tells the story of a romance between a biology graduate student and a computer science graduate student. Having... (more) 


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (2003) 
 Mark Haddon 

The narrator of this novel is Christopher Boone, an autistic teenager who is trying to figure out who killed his neighbor's dog. Although Christopher is very good at math, he is not very good at understanding... (more) 


Delicious Rivers (2006) 
 Ellen Maddow 

This collage of absurd and entertaining scenes at a NYC post office (and the music and choreography to which they are performed) were all inspired by the mathematics of Penrose Tilings. In particular,... (more) 


The Devil and the Lady (1930) 
 Alfred Tennyson 

Although first published in 1930, this humorous and beautifully worded play was written by the famous poet more than 100 years earlier when he was less than 14 years old. One character is a mathematician... (more) 



A Disappearing Number (2007) 
 Simon McBurney 

Scenes of Srinivasa Ramanujan's collaboration with G.H. Hardy around the time of World War I are mixed in with modern storylines including an Indian physicist who has applied Ramanujan's work to String... (more) 


Don Juan oder die Liebe zur Geometrie (1953) 
 Max Frisch 

In this German play, sometimes presented in English translation as "Don Juan or the Love of Geometry", the famous lover explains to the audience that the other authors who have written about him have gotten it all wrong; it is mathematics and not women that he truly loves.
Thanks to Thorben Brunschötte for bringing this work of mathematical fiction to my attention. (more) 


Emilie (2010) 
 Kaija Saariaho (composer)/Amin Maalouf (libretto) 

In this opera, a single performer portrays the final days in the life of Émilie du Châtelet, whose promising career as a mathematical physicist in the 18th century was tragically cut short at the age of 42. Émilie du Châtelet's story is also told in two recent plays: see Emilie: La Marquise Du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight and Legacy of Light . (more) 



Euclid and His Modern Rivals (1879) 
 Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) 

I have long known that mathematician Charles Dodgson, who wrote the famous Alice stories under the pseudonym "Lewis Carroll", also wrote a book defending Euclid's ancient text as the best for teaching... (more) 


The Exception (2005) 
 Alex Kasman 

Written in the form of a dialogue between a man in a nursing home and his grandchild, this short story describes an undergraduate research project that produces a surprising answer to one of the most famous... (more) 


Fermat's Last Tango (2000) 
 Joanne Sydney Lessner / Joshua Rosenblum 

Fermat's Last Tango is an intelligently written, hilarious fantasia
based on Andrew Wiles' 1993 proof of Fermat's Last Theorem. The main plot consists of a love triangle between Daniel
Keane... (more) 


The Five Hysterical Girls Theorem (2000) 
 Rinne Groff 

I think this play about a number theory conference at the British seaside at the turn of the 20th century may be misunderstood. The plot revolves around the neuroses of the senior researcher, Moses Vazsonyi,... (more) 


Galileo (1938) 
 Bertolt Brecht 

Of course, Brecht's biographical play takes more of a political than a mathematical view of the life of the famous astronomer/mathematician. Note that Joseph Losey, who directed the first American production... (more) 



God and Stephen Hawking (2000) 
 Robin Hawdon 

Although most people know him as a "scientist", Stephen Hawking is probably the best known living mathematician. (Technically, he is the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University.) This play examines his life and work.
(more) 


Hamlet and Pfister Forms  A Tragedy in Four Acts (1992) 
 Jan Minac 

An absurd combination of comedy, advanced mathematics, and Shakespearean tragedy by Western University math professor Ján Mináč which was performed at the mathematical institute in Oberwolfach,... (more) 


Hapgood (1988) 
 Tom Stoppard 

A brief discussion of Euler's solution to the Königsburg Bridge Problem appears in Stoppard's play about espionage and quantum physics.
When a British physicist doubleagent is accused of giving... (more) 


Homage (1995) 
 Ross Kagan Marks (director) / Mark Medoff (screenplay) 

This film (and the 1994 play "The Homage that Follows" on which it was based) explores the mind of a murderer, who in this case happens to be a man with a Ph.D. in mathematics. He turns down a position... (more) 


Hypatia or The Divine Algebra (2000) 
 Mac Wellman 

Artistically produced offBroadway play about the famous female
mathematician who was tortured to death by Christian monks in the 5th
Century. In Wellman's unusual telling, however, Hypatia ends up... (more) 


In Good King Charles's Golden Days (1939) 
 George Bernard Shaw 

Considered by many to be Shaw's worst play, this late example of his
witty writing may be of special interest to visitors to this site. It
takes place at the home of Sir Isaac Newton where he is joined... (more) 


Incendies (2010) 
 Denis Villeneuve / Valérie BeaugrandChampagne / Wajdi Mouawad 

After their mother is struck speechless at a pool, resulting in her hospitalization and then her death, twins Jeanne and Simon are given two sealed envelopes and told to deliver them to the father they... (more) 


Incompleteness (2004) 
 Apostolos Doxiadis 

A play by the author of Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture on the last, sad days in the life of Kurt Gödel. After a "workshop production" in Athens, Greece (June 2428, 2003) the show's official... (more) 


Infinities (2002) 
 John Barrow 

This play, written by Cambridge cosmologist John Barrow, has been produced and performed in Italy (Milan and Valencia). It is made up of five separate vignettes several of which touch on the deep mathematics... (more) 


Jumpers (1972) 
 Tom Stoppard 

In a philosophical monologue on the nature of morality, a main character considers Zeno's paradox and infinitesimals and imagines a circle as a limit of polygons. (more) 


Leap (2004) 
 Lauren Gunderson 

This play explores the inspiration for Isaac Newton's amazing discoveries in 1664, personifying it in the form of two young girls whose playful interaction leads to the results we remember Newton for today.... (more) 


Legacy of Light (2009) 
 Karen Zacarías 

Two tales of discovery and pregnancy are told in this play. An astrophysicist at the Newton Institute whose team has discovered evidence of a planet in formation feels that she is too old to be pregnant... (more) 


Let Newton Be! (2011) 
 Craig Baxter 

The three actors in this play portray Isaac Newton at three different stages of his life, as well as occasionally representing other people. Interestingly, the three Newton's interact with each other,... (more) 


The Limit (2019) 
 Freya Smith / Jack Williams 

This poprock musical about the life of mathematician Sophie Germain was performed in March 2019 at the VAULT festival in London.
The playwrights were supposedly looking for a historical female character... (more) 


Love Counts (2005) 
 Michael Hastings (libretto) / Michael Nyman (score) 

This opera tells the tale of the surprising friendship between a boxer whose career and life are in decline and a mathematics professor who uses arithmetic as a tool to help him out. It premiered in March 2005 at Germany's Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe.
Thanks to Peter Freyd for pointing it out to me. (more) 


Lovesong of the Electric Bear (2005) 
 Snoo Wilson (playwright) 

This play about Alan Turing, told from the point of view of Porgy, his teddy bear, was produced as part of the Summer 2005 season at the Potomac Theater Project in Maryland. Turing certainly had both... (more) 


The Mathematics of Being Human (2015) 
 Michelle Osherow / Manil Suri 

A math professor and a literature professor attempt to collaborate on an interdisciplinary course in this semiautobiographical one act play.
To begin with, I should admit that nearly everything I know... (more) 


Mathematics of the Heart (2011) 
 Kefi Chadwick (playwright) / Donnacadh O'Briain (director) 

An expert on the mathematics of chaos theory deals with chaos in his own life in the form of a girlfriend seeking commitment, a brother crashing in his apartment, and a new graduate student.
I have not seen this play, but have only run across notices announcing its production at the Brighton Fringe festival in 2011. Additional information about the play would be most appreciated. (more) 


Mrs. Warren's Profession (1894) 
 George Bernard Shaw 

This is Shaw's notorious play about poverty and prostitution, the
"profession" of the title. (The play itself was not performed in
public in the UK until 1925.)
Mrs. Warren has made her fortune... (more) 


Newton's Hooke (2004) 
 David Pinner 

A play about Isaac Newton and Robert Hooke which presents "the dark side" of Newton. Emphasis is put on his egotism (not only does he think that he is incomparably brilliant, but he also seems to think... (more) 


On the marriage of Hermes and Philology (410) 
 Marianus Capella 

"A must in your data base is Martianus Capella (c. 410 A.D.), On the
marriage of Hermes and Philology (translated in english by W.H. Stahl,
Columbia University Press): Hermes is marrying a minor godess
Philology. The Seven Liberal Arts (including Arithmetic, Geometry,
Astronomy and Harmony) come to greet the couple and present themselves."
(more) 


Onto Infinity (2002) 
 David Alex 

A young mathematician and his older wife struggle to accept her fate as she slowly dies of cancer.
As you might guess since I maintain a website on mathematical fiction, I am not one of those who see... (more) 


Partition (2003) 
 Ira Hauptman 

According to Ken Ribet's review of the San Francisco production in the Notices of the AMS, this play about the interaction between the mathematicians Hardy and Ramanujan explores the "partitions" that... (more) 


The Power of Words (1845) 
 Edgar Allan Poe 

A very short work (twopages long!) in
which two angels discuss the divine implications of our ability to
mathematically determine the future consequences of an action, especially
wave propagation.... (more) 


Proof (2000) 
 David Auburn 

This Pulitzer Prize winning play (now also a film) focuses on a daughter who took care of her father after his mental disorder forced him to give up his successful career as a mathematician. After the... (more) 



The Raven and the Writing Desk (2019) 
 Ian T. Durham 

In this work  which is more of a Socratic dialogue utilizing characters from Lewis Carroll's fiction than it is a work of fiction itself  the author explores philosophical questions regarding the existence... (more) 


Refund (1938) 
 Fritz Karinthy (original) / Percival Wilde (English Adaptation) 

A former student demands that his tuition be refunded because he feels his education was worthless, but loses his bid when he is tricked by the mathematics master.
This entry refers to the 1938 adaptation... (more) 


Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead (1967) 
 Tom Stoppard 

This brilliant, weird play, retelling the story of Shakespeare's Hamlet
from the point of view of two "throw away" characters, unfortunately has
very little mathematics in it. However, every few days... (more) 


Shakespeare Predicted it All (2003) 
 Dietmar Dath 

An artistically composed piece about Georg Cantor, inventor of the theory of transfinite cardinals, in the form of a dialogue between the characters "1" and "2", both of whom are either Cantor or Hamlet.... (more) 


Slightly Perfect / Are you with it? (1941) 
 George MalcolmSmith (Novel) / Sam Perrin (Script) / George Balzer (Script) 

Eggheaded actuary Milton Northey Haskins quits his job upon learning that his company has lost money due to his misplaced decimal point and he joins a carnival in the 1941 novel Slightly Perfect. This... (more) 


Tenet (2012) 
 Lorne Campbell/ Sandy Grierson 

Évariste Galois is one of two characters in this play, whose full title is apparently "Tenet: A True Story About the Revolutionary Politics of Telling the Truth about Truth as Edited by Someone Who is... (more) 


Thinking of Leaving Your Husband? (2010) 
 Charlotte Cory 

[This] is the book of a series of [BBC] radio comedies from last year, in which the heroine has various unfortunate experiences with internet dating before meeting the perfect partner, who is a mathematician.... (more) 


Two Trains Running (1990) 
 August Wilson 

This play is set in Pittsburgh, 1969. An economically depressed area
of the city is facing urban renewal, and the specter of eminent domain
seizure hangs over the main character's future. The other... (more) 


Uniform Convergence: A OneWoman Play (2016) 
 Corrine Yap 

This play about race, gender and math was written and first performed by Corrine Yap when she was a math/theater double major at Sarah Lawrence College. It has evolved and changed and continued to be... (more) 


Verrechnet (2009) 
 Carl Djerassi/Isabella Gregor 

With the help of playwright/director Isabella Gregor, Djerassi updated his play Calculus (Newton's Whores). The plot still revolves around the question of priority on the invention of calculus, and especially... (more) 


Victoria Martin: Math Team Queen (2007) 
 Kathryn Walat (playwright) 

Victoria Martin is a popular girl at Longwood High  dating one of the stars of the school basketball team and friends with the "Jens" on the cheerleading squad. So, most of the guys on the math team... (more) 


Welcome to Paradise (2005) 
 Paul DavidGoddard /Helen Miller 

Not much happens in this play. A young Englishman who has just earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics goes on a trip to Australia to find himself. Coauthor Helen Miller based the play on her... (more) 


Über die Schrift hinaus (2018) 
 Ulla Berkéwicz 

The first part of this book is a kind of essay on a "fictional history of
ideas": That an initial, prehistoric life of mind, or spirituality,
which had been esoteric and outside the scope of linguistic
expression,... (more) 
