Lauren Gunderson is no stranger to science and history. With works that delve into the lives of scientific pioneers, such as Isaac Newton (in Leap) and physicist Emilie du Châtelet (in Emilie: La Marquise du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight), Gunderson frequently puts scientists under the microscope onstage. However, with I And You, running at the Olney Theatre Center in Maryland through March 23, Gunderson turns to a giant not from science but from American literature: Walt Whitman, and his poem “Song of Myself.” “His language is so muscular and vivacious,” Gunderson says. “Whitman has that sense of carpe diem.” In the play, 17-year-old Caroline is dealing with a chronic illness as she takes part in a group English project on Whitman’s seminal poem. “This play is very contemporary—and it’s realism,” Gunderson explains. “It’s a real departure for me.”
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