Playwright Monica Byrne introduces “The Pentaeon”


This is the first of Monica Byrne’s blogs discussing her process for her play “The Pentaeon” (formerly known as “The Fate of the Universe”). “The Pentaeon” is a part of the Collider New Play Project, a new play program partnering playwrights from around the country with scientists from Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory to develop new works that help us better understand the universe and who we are, while illuminating and celebrating the worlds of art, science and technology. The result will be world premier staged readings right here in St. Charles! 

Monica is a scientist-turned-writer whose plays has been read, developed and produced at Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern, Manbites Dog Theater, Common Ground Theater, Carrboro Arts Center, Durham County Library, Ravenclaw Salon, the Elsewhere Collaborative, and Pinky Swear Productions. She is a graduate of the Dirty South Improv Training Program, and in 2011 she was a finalist for an EST/Sloan Commission for her play Nightwork. She holds degrees in biochemistry from Wellesley College and MIT, and is a member of the Dramatists Guild. Her web sites are and


Now that the tornado of What Every Girl Should Know is past, I have one nice, full, round, juicy month to complete a commission for The Collider Project. It’s amazing how quickly a project changes when you actually sit down with it. Now the play is named The Pentaeon, after The Decameron on which it’s modeled; it’s set during a hurricane in Rhode Island instead of a redwood forest lodge outside of Pasadena; it features the MIT astrophysics department instead of the Caltech astrophysics department; and there are ten characters instead of five.

These characters, trapped by the storm, pass the time by telling each other stories about the end of the universe. I envision vast themes and poetic language, both of which are new territory for me. I’m reading The Five Ages of the Universe  to familiarize myself with how the universe is going to end: five ages, penta aeones, The Pentaeon. Not ambitious at all. But why else do I do what I do, you know?


-Monica Byrne, Collider Playwright

Collider New Play Project is a part of the St. Charles Summer Theater Festival (July 6 – 22, 2012).

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