“Arcadia” is set at Sidley Park, an English country house in Derbyshire, and takes place in two time periods: 1809/1812 and the present day. The play follows scholars Hannah Jarvis and Bernard Nightingale as they try to unlock the mysteries of the past. Together with the other residents of the house, they endeavor to discover the identity of the infamous Sidley Park Hermit, solve a murder, and learn more about a brilliant young lady who saw chaos theory in bowls of rice pudding, and sought to compute the heat death of the universe.
Most of the work of the rehearsal room is about discovery. Unearthing the meaning imbued in the dialogue by the playwright. In the case of Stoppard, in particular the work we present tonight, his deeply intellectual drama demands that we seek understanding also related to the ideas of Chaos theory, dialectical materialism, Eastern European politics, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, metaphysics, and linguistics. Therefore the rehearsal room transcends into a place of debate, of thirst, of education and of creating connections. That is what theatre can do. Theatre places us, as makers, and you, as observers, in a world outside of our everyday and transports us into a state where we can form links, pose questions and hopefully, if done well, help us see a way through our daily challenges. But Stoppard does not simply talk of “highbrow” pursuits, he shows us heartache, and the search for love – and in the rehearsal room, and hopefully here tonight on stage, none of us have to google what “love” truly is.