Quantum Theatre Opens ‘The Hard Problem’; ‘Dracula’ Rises at Pittsburgh Ballet (Fri., 10/27/17)

1) Just when a lot of folks thought Tom Stoppard was done with playwriting, after a long and illustrious career of turning out plays that combine philosophical wit with serious issue-wrangling—his 1966 gem, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, keeps rising from the dead in periodic revivals—and after side ventures into screenwriting, too (Terry Gilliam’s Brazil; Shakespeare in Love)—Stoppard, at age 77, came out with a new play. The Hard Problem is about one of the so-called hard problems in science: explaining the nature and origin of consciousness. The action revolves around a fictional brain institute where characters debate how humans acquired the mysterious ability to not only sense and react to the world, but also think, imagine, love or hate it, etc. The Hard Problem premiered in London in 2015 to mixed reactions, with some calling it vintage Stoppard while others felt it was short of a full bottle. We’ll see what kind of kick it delivers in the Quantum Theatre production. 8 p.m. Performances through November 19. Energy Innovation Center, 1435 Bedford Ave., Uptown. (MV)

2) Dracula is not your grandparents’ ballet. It includes not only dancing but also levitation and pyrotechnics. Although based on Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, the ballet adds new characters. These include Svetlana, a soon-to-be-engaged young woman. Never mind Count Dracula’s undead brides; they bore him—Svetlana is the object of his desire. The setting, which incorporates Balkan and Romanian architecture, will transport audiences to 19th-century Transylvania. The score is by Franz Liszt, a 19th-century Hungarian composer and pianist. Former British dancer and current Texas Ballet Theater Artistic Director Ben Stevenson created the adaptation. Dracula made its world premiere at the Houston Ballet in 1997, and it has been performed in many other U.S. cities., including Pittsburgh. This time Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre dances it at the Benedum Center. 8 p.m. Continues through October 29. 237 7th St., Cultural District. (CM)