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The Catastrophist

Sunday, April 18, 2021
1:00pm Pacific Time
KQED Broadcast: 04/18/2021, 04/20/2021, 04/21/2021

We've made a recording of this event free to all. Please support our institution and these productions by making a tax-deductible contribution.

Playwright Lauren Gunderson’s work is often based on the lives of historical figures – scientists like Marie Curie and Isaac Newton, and political figures such as the first woman elected to Congress. Gunderson didn’t have to travel far to research her newest play, The Catastrophist – the one-man play centers on her husband, virologist Nathan Wolfe. One of Wolfe’s areas of expertise – biological threats that can lead to pandemics.  On April 8, 2021, Adam Savage talked to Gunderson and Wolfe about the play, their respective careers, and the pandemic’s effect on theater.

Lauren Gunderson has been one of the most produced playwrights in America since 2015. She studied Southern Literature and Drama at Emory University, and Dramatic Writing at NYU’s Tisch School where she was a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship. Her work is published at Playscripts (I and You; Exit Pursued By A Bear; The Taming and Toil And Trouble), Dramatists Play Service (The Revolutionists; The Book of Will; Silent Sky; Bauer, Natural Shocks, The Wickhams and Miss Bennet) and Samuel French (Emilie). She is also the author of the picture book Dr Wonderful: Blast Off to the Moon. Gunderson’s newest play is The Catastrophist, presented by the Marin Theatre Company.

Nathan Wolfe has spent his life studying deadly viruses to detect worldwide disease pandemics before they kill millions. He is founder and executive chairman of Global Viral, a non-profit organization promoting understanding, exploration and stewardship of the microbial world. Wolfe’s endeavors coordinate over one hundred scientists and staff around the planet by spotting viruses as soon as they surface through collecting and cataloguing blood samples, surveying wild animals, scanning urban blood banks and documenting the transfer and distribution of disease. Armed with high-tech tools and a small army of fieldworkers, Nathan Wolfe hopes to re-invent pandemic control and reveal hidden secrets of the planet’s dominant lifeform: the virus.

Adam Savage is an industrial special effects designer and former co-host of The Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters with Jamie Hyneman. Today, Savage hosts and executive produces MythBusters Jr. as well as Savage Builds on the Science Channel. He also stars in and produces content for his website and co-hosts the podcast Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project.