Two People Encounter Infinite Possibilities in “Constellations”

How many chances do we get to make a first impression? For Roland and Marianne, the two protagonists in Constellations by Nick Payne, the answer is infinite. In the play, running November 1–3 in the Black Box Theatre at Cornell’s Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts, Payne proposes that life exists in a multiverse, in which countless parallel existences play out simultaneously, allowing for an infinity of possible futures.

The Department of Performing and Media Arts’ production of Constellations, directed by Julia Dunetz ’19, combines science, technology, and storytelling to engage its audience both emotionally and intellectually in Marianne and Roland’s romance. The play is, according to sound designer Franklin Wang ‘20, “a marvelously technical production. It's a rare chance to see something so transformative in the Black Box. The story is unique and the whole show is such an experience.”

In Constellations, some of these parallel universes play out over the course of Roland and Marianne’s relationship. Do they hit it off right away or part ways, never to meet again? Does he break her heart? Does she break his? Will their relationship take root and grow into something beautiful, or will their romance be cut short by the decisions they’ve made?

“Constellations is a totally universal story that is told in a unique way,” says Dunetz. “Ultimately, the play’s message is to live life to its fullest extent, and I think that is a reminder that we can all use.”

Performances of Constellations are in the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts’ Black Box Theatre November 1 at 7:30 p.m., November 2 at 5:00 p.m., and November 3 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 and are available at or at the Schwartz Center box office Monday–Saturday, 1:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. The Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts is located at 430 College Avenue in Ithaca.

Bryan Hagelin '20 is a communications assistant in the Department of Performing and Media Arts.

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 Actors in the production of Constellations.