Dr. Michael Cadden, Director of the Program in Theater and Dance at Princeton University, explains that the 19th century was the "great age of glass"--glass was suddenly affordable for everyday use and was being used in startling new ways, from photography to microscopes. Just as microscopes made transparent what could not be seen before, so RUTHERFORD AND SON makes transparent the personal lives of the people who run the Rutherford glass works.

Dr. Cadden also discusses how scientist Charles Darwin's theories on evolution shaped late 19th and early 20th century social discourse, and how this influence is evident in Sowerby's play. One of John Rutherford Senior's key concerns is to ensure the family business is passed down, but his domineering ways might have, in Darwinist terms, "degenerated" his sons, making them unfit for the role expected of them.

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