Wittgenstein: On Mars

by Jeanne Carstensen, The Gate


Meteorites from Mars! A scene from George Coates'
"Wittgenstein: On Mars."
from Wittgenstein: On Mars
Antarctica is the setting of George Coates' latest production, "Wittgenstein: On Mars." It's the age of karaoke and the enigmatic Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) has returned from the grave to question the limits of knowledge in the context of new discoveries about life on Mars. From their silver stream trailer outpost, two American researchers search the landscape for Martian meteors and in the process uncover The Examiner, a dapper alien and former student of Wittgenstein, who has arrived to administer The Test. As the inquiry into the significance of the billion-year-old microbial fossils found in Rock 84 unfolds, Wittgenstein brings his rather tortured philosophy to bear on the proceedings, speaking from his writings in The Tractatus, Remarks on Culture and Value, and the posthumously published collection Wittgenstein: On Certainty.

If this sounds dense, it is. But the German-born actor Walter Dickhaut's uncompromising yet tender portrayal of the humorless Wittgenstein lends a familiar and thoroughly modern note to the philosopher's suffering in the vice grip of language. The George Coates Performance Works website contains plenty of links to Wittgenstein and Mars-related resources if you want to bone up before the show.

-- Jeanne Carstensen, sfgate.com

Wittgenstein: On Mars, a world premiere theater work written and directed by George Coates, will be presented on Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 pm February 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, and 28. All performances will be presented at Performance Works, 110 McAllister Street in San Francisco. Visit our webstage: www.georgecoates.org

Duck or Rabbit? A scene from George Coates'
"Wittgenstein: On Mars."
from Wittgenstein: On Mars
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