When Light Bends

Did you know that gravity bends light?
Sleight of hand…optical illusion…..music….. mystery….and THE SOLAR ECLIPSE will show you how

Join us for When Light Bends, a play with magic and music that takes us “backstage” of the upcoming 2024 solar eclipse. Journey through spacetime with Einstein and others as they figure out what makes matter move and how we matter.
When Light Bends is based on a original concept by producer, Kay Matschullat, directed by Elena Araoz, written by John Edgar Lopez and Gracie Leavitt, astrophysicist Jared Goldberg, Justin Townsend designing set and lights, and composer Tamar Muskal inventing an original score. The piece will be activated by a diverse cast representing the world in which we live and reflecting the audience we seek to serve.


Highland Center for the Arts

2875 Hardwick St, Greensboro, VT 0584

March 22-24, 2024

Boston Museum of Science

1 Science Park Boston, MA 02114

March 27, 2024


Elena Araoz

Steve Cuiffo

Jared Goldberg

Gracie Leavitt

John Lopez

Kay Matschullat

Tamar Muskal

Justin Townsend


Victoria Frings

Sam Kebede

Marina Pires

Jon Norman Schneider


Stage Director Elena Araoz

Elena Araoz is a stage director of theater, opera, multi-media performance, and theatrical large-scale immersive events, working internationally, Off-Broadway, and across the country. Elena is attracted to epic stories, and her productions are known for huge dance-like theatrics and acutely naturalistic acting. The New York Times has praised Araoz’s productions as “form-busting and gorgeous,” “striking,” “primal,” “wild,” “stirring,” and “refreshingly natural,” The Boston Globe as “riveting,” “dreamy,” and “vivid,” and The New Yorker as “refreshing.” Time Out New York mentions, “Elena Araoz is a director with deep wells of imagination; she seems drawn to magical realist work.” Elena also serves as the Producing Artistic Director of Princeton University’s Theater and Music Theater Season. She is a founding member of the Obie-winning The Sol Project. The Dallas Opera just released her 3D Immersive audio-only production of No One Is Forgotten: An Immersive Opera. Elena served as director and immersive designer of the opera composed by Paola Prestini and Sxip Shirey and written by Winter Miller, in a never before created method. Senator Bill Bradley’s documentary film Rolling Along, on which Elena served as Artistic Consultant after having served as Dramaturg for the Senator’s stage production, premiered at the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival produced by Spike Lee, and will release on HBO/MAX in early February 2024. Upcoming, Elena will direct the commercial run of the new musical Havana Music Hall as an immersive experience inside the new Miami club by the same name. 2024 will mark the sixth annual 30-city national tour of her musical production of Sugar Skull. She will also direct Catherine Filloux’s How to Eat an Orange at La Mama, Elena’s productions have been seem at BAM, New York City Opera, Vancouver Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Oregon Symphony, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Prague Shakespeare, New York Theatre Workshop Next Door, Bucharest International, Cherry Lane Theatre, Noble Theater Bridge in Beijing, Studio Theatre in D.C., Barrington Stage, and PENAmerica to name a few. Her multimedia piece The Manic Monologues at McCarter Theatre was nominated for the Drama League Award. www.elenaaraoz.com

Astrophysicist Jared Goldberg

Originally from starry Southern California, Jared Goldberg received his B.A.’s in Physics and Philosophy from Claremont McKenna College in 2016, and his Ph.D. in Physics from UC Santa Barbara in 2022. He currently is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Astrophysics, where research focuses on using simulations to understand the structure and evolution of stars, and the light produced in their explosions as supernovae. Jared’s love for the physics of celestial objects grew from a love of music, and his mother loves to tell the story of how his first science project ever was about sound waves in musical instruments (wait until Kindergarten-Jared hears that sound waves travel through stars, too!). Non-professionally, Jared also loves hiking and nature, martial arts, exploring the city and its culture and cuisine, puzzles, and puns.

Illusion Designer Steve Cuiffo

Steve Cuiffo is a theater artist and illusion designer whose work includes: A Simulacrum with Lucas Hnath (Atlantic Theater); Elephant Room (CTG); Lucas Hnath’s The Thin Place (Playwrights Horizons) and A Public Reading…About The Death of Walt Disney (Soho Rep.); Geoff Sobelle’s Home and The Object Lesson (BAM); Thaddeus Phillips’ Zoo Motel and Zoo Mundo; Search For Signs Of Intelligent Life In the Universe (CTG); Antipodes, Old Hats (Signature Theatre); Lypsinka’s The Passion of the Crawford; Lenny Bruce at Carnegie Hall (St. Ann’s); Magic Consultant for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Season 4); Magic Director for David Blaine Live. Wooster Group associate. Co-Founder of Secret Arts.

As a theater artist Steve creates new works of performance through collaboration and experimentation, rather than using traditional scripts or pre-existing material. It’s a creative process in which the performers, director, and other members of the creative team work together to develop a new piece of theater, often starting with a loose concept or theme and improvising, rehearsing, and refining the work over time.

As a magic consultant and illusion designer, Steve advises on the use of magic and illusions in theater, film, and television productions. Steve helps to develop the concept for a magic trick or illusion, create a detailed plan for how the trick will be constructed and performed, and provide guidance on how to make the trick look as convincing as possible on stage or screen. He works with the director, actors, and other members of the production team to create realistic and impressive magic effects that help to tell the story and enhance the overall production.

Writer Gracie Leavitt

Gracie Leavitt is a poet, storyteller and writer for performance interested in amplifying underheard histories and supporting narrative change in collaboration with experts in their own fields and experiences. Her work is anchored in the lyric, experiment, documentary and deep listening. Publications include the poetry collections Livingry and Monkeys, Minor Planet, Average Star, and she composed the text for the play Pitch, directed by Benjamin Mosse and staged at La MaMa as a production of Richard Schechner’s East Coast Artists. Jeffrey Gavett and Taylor Brook have set her poems to music for vocal performance, with a recording featured on the Byrne:Kozar:Duo’s It Floats Away from You. Gracie has also written and edited for television, including an essay voiced by Candace Parker. Having previously lived in and loved Philadelphia, Brooklyn and St. Louis, she currently resides in Maine, on the traditional lands of the Wabanaki, with her partner and two small children.

Writer John Lopez

John Lopez got his start working in feature film production before covering entertainment and the arts for Vanity Fair, The Los Angeles Times, and BusinessWeek among others. An alum of the Sundance Episodic lab, John has written and produced for such shows as Strange Angel (Paramount+), Seven Seconds (Netflix), The Man Who Fell to Earth (Showtime) and The Terminal List (Amazon). In the run up to the WGA’s 2023 contract negotiations, he also served as a member of the Guild’s AI working group.

Creative Producer/Dramaturg Kay Matschullat

Kay Matschullat is an award-winning director, producer, and educator dedicated to deconstructing barriers and exploring inventive collaborations. She has directed world premieres of plays by Nobel Prize winner, Derek Walcott, and Pulitzer Prize winner, Ariel Dorfman, and had artistic residencies at Calarts, Dartmouth, Duke, and SCAD. She launched the IntheRaw program at Red Bull Theater and the New Play Program at Williamstown Theater Festival. After successfully launching the first online collaborative tool for script development, Matschullat founded MAX (Media Art Xploration, Inc) dedicated to increasing artistic exploration with and about the light speed advances in science and technology. Since founding Media Art Xploration, she has produced the multi -venue biennial festivals MAXlive 2019:  A Space Festival, the inaugural MAXlive festival in San Francisco creating collaborations between scientists and performers, MAXlive 2021, The Neuroverse pushing the limits of intelligence and investigating applications of AI in performance, and MAXlive 2023 Where is My Body – dance music and immersive performance exploring the changing nature of embodiment.  Partners include Carnegie Hall, The Exploratorium, MASS MoCA, National Sawdust, New York Live Arts, Onassis ONX Studio, The Boston Museum of Science,California Academy of Science and Highland Center for the Arts. She served as a full-time faculty member at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts for two decades, and was a guest lecturer at Princeton University and Harvard College where she received the Rudolf Arnheim Award for Interdisciplinary Work.  She enjoys creating space for artists, scientists and creative technologists to change the world. 

Composer Tamar Muskal

Educated both in Israel and the United States, Tamar Muskal’s music harmonizes the unique cultural aspects of both places. Her music is always in a counterpoint style, carefully structured, and with great attention for details. Recent and future commissions include a work for soprano, interactive kinetic sculpture (by Daniel Rozin) and orchestra – commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra; a concerto for solo percussion, interactive kinetic sculpture (by Daniel Rozin) and chamber ensemble – commissioned by the La Jolla SumerFest; an opera with director-librettist Daniel Kramer (former artistic director of the English National Opera), with Raehann Bryce-Davis in the leading role; a flute concerto for Abigail Dolan – commissioned by the British Symphonova; a solo piano piece for Benjamin Hochman – commissioned by Deutscher Musikrat Neustart Kultur Stipendium; and a piano trio – commissioned by Ensemble Pi. Ms. Muskal has also served as the Westchester Philharmonic’s education composer-in-residence in the years 2001-2004, and in that capacity composed three orchestral pieces based on students’ artwork and poetry. Awards and grants came from institutions such as Academy of Arts and Letters, Guggenheim Foundation, Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University, Opera America, Meet The Composer, Forum/Jerome Foundation, IAWM, ASCAP, and four awards for her compositions and achievements from Yale School of Music. In 2014 Anthony Tommasini’s (of the NY Times) mentioned Tamar and her solo piano piece In My Heart I Am in his list of 10 Best Classical Music Events of the year – “… I kept thinking that classical music doesn’t get better than this” – he wrote.

Lighting and Set Designer Justin Townsend

Justin Townsend is an educator and international designer for performance. These twin vocations have formed the core of his professional identity throughout his twenty-five year career. A Tony Award winner, he has designed well over two hundred and fifty shows, spent fifteen years teaching in graduate and undergraduate settings, and served as a guest artist at educational theaters all over the country. His work thins the wall between academic and professional pursuits, allowing fundamental aspects of each to influence and inform the other. His innovations incorporate cutting-edge technology, reimagining raw theater tools, and an intimate investigation of modern aesthetics into both his career and classroom. 

His professional lighting design work includes such productions as: Moulin Rouge! The Musical (Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award); Jagged Little Pill (Tony Nomination); American Psycho (Tony nomination, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Henry Hewes Award); The Humans (Tony nomination, Drama Desk Award); Here Lies Love, (Drama Desk Award, Public Theater); Vietgone, (MTC); Pretty Filthy, (Civilians); Mr. Burns, a Post Electric Play, Milk Like Sugar, (Playwrights Horizons); Odyssey, A Winter’s Tale, (Public Works at the Delacorte Theater); Venus, (Signature Theater); Unnatural Acts, Mother Courage, and Galileo (Classic Stage Company).

As a creative director, Justin collaborated with Grammy-winning recording artist Drake, designing a 50 foot tall replica of the top of the CN Tower for Drake’s OvO Fest in Toronto. The two also paired up for 2017’s “Boy Meets World” European tour.  Set Design work includes designs on and off Broadway as well as in the regional theater.  He collaborates with directors Elena Araoz, Nancy Keystone, Lear Debessonet, and Brooke O’Harra.  Justin received an Obie Award for Sustained Excellence in Lighting Design in 2014.

Sound Designer Nathan Leigh

Nathan Leigh is a sound designer, composer, and animator who has collaborated on hundreds of plays at theatres including Cherry Lane (Original Sound), Boundless Theatre (How To Melt Ice, Fur, Mud, Conduct of Life, Prospect), MCC (Space Dogs), Signature (Our Brother’s Son), Spanish Repertory (The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao), New York Theatre Workshop (Nat Turner In Jerusalem), Red
Bull Theatre (The Duchess of Malfi), Barrington Stage (Anna In The Tropics, Waiting for Godot), Huntington Theatre (Skeleton Crew) and many more. With Kyle Jarrow, Nathan co-created the musicals Big Money and The Consequences. With Jason Slavick and the Liars and Believers ensemble, Nathan Leigh composed scores for Song of Songs, Icarus, and A Story Beyond. Nathan is the co-artistic
director of CirqueSaw and created the immersive piece POV: You Are An AI Achieving Consciousness (Young-Howze Awards Immersive Production of the Year 2023, No Proscenium Special Editor’s Award 2024) and the forthcoming stop motion feature The Golem. www.nathanleigh.net

Costume Designer Christopher Vergara

CHRISTOPHER VERGARA (Costume Designer). Recent: you don’t have to do anything (Here Arts); American Mariachi (Alley); Espejos:Clean (Studio); Living & Breathing (Two Rivers); How to Melt ICE (Boundless); Anna in the TropicsElían (Miami New Drama); Detroit ’67Eight Nights (Detroit Public); Party People (Actor’s Theater); Anna in the Tropics (Barrington); Survivor‘s Odyssey, a virtual live opera (White Snake); Windfall (Bay Street); Once (VinWonders); Macbeth (Lewis Center); In the Heights (Orlando Shakes); Golem of HavanaKidnap Road (La MaMa); La Traviata (Brevard); HarlequinadeMajisimas (Les Ballet Trockadero); Proud member of IATSE-USA829, Design Action, Wingspace, and La Gente: Latinx Theatre Network. @cavergaradesign christophervergara.com


Actor Victoria Frings

Victoria Frings is an actor and writer based in Los Angeles. She has acted on and off-Broadway and at regional theaters across the country. Favorite roles include Celimene in School for Lies at the Shakespeare Theatre Company and Marianne in Constellations at the Old Globe. She wrote and directed a short film, “The Club,” which she has since developed into a TV show, and is currently attached to star in the Broadway-bound musical, Madame Clicquot, which will receive its world premiere in Pittsburg next year. She graduated summa cum laude with a BA in Environmental Studies from the University of Pennsylvania.

Actor Sam Kebede

Sam Kebede is a Actor/Writer/Comedian based in NYC but born in Southern California. He has performed at venues all across the country including The Public Theater in NYC, The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT, and FringeArts in Philadelphia. He has been featured in nearly every major american newspaper, including The New York Times and Washington Post. Sam has had readings of his plays in CA, NC, NY, and CT and regularly performs stand up in NYC. He’s been called a “Perfectly charming [performer]”, an “exciting new voice filled with both compassion and truth”, and “very exuberant and smart”. And that’s just from the Chicago Tribune. 

Actor Marina Pires

Past credits: Broadway’s How to Dance in Ohio; On Your Feet! Broadway First National Tour; The Bridges of Madison County (Signature Theater DC); Phish @ Madison Square Garden; Anna in the Tropics (Barrington Stage)

Songwriting: ‘Songs By An Immigrant’ with Jaime Lozano & La Familia (Joe’s Pub, Lincoln Center, 54 Below); ‘Shadow People’ @TheHeartstringsProject. 

IG: @Marinampires

Actor Jon Norman Schneider

Jon Norman Schneider most recently appeared in Poor Yella Rednecks at Manhattan Theatre Club. Select NY credits include The Coast Starlight (LCT), Catch as Catch Can (Playwrights Horizons), The Chinese Lady (The Public), among others. Regional: Actors Theatre of Louisville, Alley, Alliance, Barrington Stage, Dorset Theatre Festival, Goodman, Huntington, Kennedy Center, Long Wharf, Magic, McCarter, Milwaukee Rep, Mosaic, Northern Stage, Old Globe, and South Coast Rep. Film/TV: Bitter Melon, Manila Is Full of Men Named Boy, The Normals, Angel Rodriguez, “Evil,” “The Endgame,” “Jessica Jones,” “Veep,” “30 Rock,” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.”

Special Thanks

Vocals  Tammy Scheffer

Violinist  Alex Fortes

Associate Sound Designer   Andrew Duncan Will


Vermont Public Radio: Director Elena Araoz and Astrophysicist Jared Goldberg stop by Vermont Edition to offer insight for When Light Bends

Barton Chronicle: Eclipse Show sheds light on space-time

Seven Days: New Play in Greensboro Tells Story of the Eclipse That Validated Einstein’s Theory of Relativity

StoweToday.com: When Light Bends explores science, mystery leading up the eclipse

Times Argus: When Light Bends: History, science, magic, and human drama to prepare for the eclipse

This work is supported by the Simons Foundation
and is part of its ‘In the Path of Totality’ initiative.
Commissioned with support from The Ensemble Studio Theatre/ Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science & Technology Project


Media Art Xploration (MAX) is a NYC-based non-profit production company that was founded in 2018 by Founding Director Kay Matschullat to support the development, production, and presentation of compelling and artistically sophisticated new work that brings important questions surrounding scientific research and emerging technology to the public in an accessible format. As accelerating climate change, technologies such as artificial intelligence chatbots and AI surveillance, and new research into animal intelligence and perception call into question our role as humans, we believe that it is imperative that artists working in live performance and immersive installation are given adequate resources to explore these developments.

From a science communication standpoint, we believe that works experienced live have a unique ability to catalyze deep emotional transformation and intellectual consideration. MAX aims to bring both arts and science audiences together and strengthen the production capacity of the greater arts ecosystem by providing substantive production support to artists both familiar and new to engaging with science and emerging technologies. In addition to supporting new commissions, we also produce a biennial live performance festival, MAXlive, featuring new works by choreographers, playwrights, composers, and technologists that grapple with the most pressing issues of our time; host a live conversation series MAXforum where artists and scientists share their processes with the public; and run a open call performance laboratory where works are incubated and developed.