NEPA Scene Staff

Hollywood bombshell and genius inventor Hedy Lamarr comes to life at Scranton Cultural Center Sept. 28-30

Hollywood bombshell and genius inventor Hedy Lamarr comes to life at Scranton Cultural Center Sept. 28-30
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From a press release:

Hedy Lamarr, glamorous siren of the silver screen, was more than the most beautiful woman and Hollywood actress. She invented frequency hopping and the spread spectrum technology that makes the world of wireless communication tick. From Austria to Hollywood, WWII, torpedoes, “Ecstasy,” and intrigue to the very cell phone in your pocket, she was there.

Based on a true story, the award-winning, internationally acclaimed one-woman show “Hedy! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr” comes from New York City to the Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple on Friday, Sept. 28 through Sunday, Sept. 30 as part of the Scranton Fringe Festival.

“Hedy! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr” explores the life, inventions, and person of Hedy Lamarr, Viennese-born Hollywood film star of the 1930s-1950s. Known as “the most beautiful woman in the world,” Lamarr stored away knowledge of munitions while married to Austrian arms dealer Fritz Mandl. She employed this knowledge to support the United States Navy’s war effort during WWII by inventing the Secret Communication System with composer George Antheil to make torpedoes more accurate. Also referred to as frequency hopping or spread spectrum technology, her invention is used today in cell phones, WiFi, CDMA, GPS, Bluetooth, and a myriad of other wireless systems.

Having studied astrophysics with dreams of becoming an astronaut, Heather Massie marries her loves of art and science in the person of Hedy Lamarr. She brings Lamarr to life while interacting with the audience and playing the 33 other characters in Hedy’s life, including Jimmy Stewart, George Sanders, Bette Davis, and Louis B. Mayer. The audience summons Lamarr to unearth the truth behind how such a glamorous actress could create an invention which is ubiquitous today.

“I use the story of the unexpected genius of Hedy Lamarr to empower women, to inspire audiences to find ways each day to make the world a better place, and to encourage young women in endeavors of science and technology,” Massie said.

Rated PG-13, “Hedy! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr” runs on Friday, Sept. 28 at 6 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 29 at 8:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Sept. 30 at 5 p.m. in the Junior Ballroom of the Scranton Cultural Center (420 N. Washington Ave., Scranton). Tickets, which are $8 for Scranton Fringe Festival button holders and $12 for general admission, are on sale now via Eventbrite. Tickets can also be purchased at the door.

Heather Massie was honored as the Outstanding Actress in a staged reading at the 2016 Planet Connections Theatre Festivity in New York City for “Hedy! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr.” The world premiere was presented on Lamarr’s 102nd birthday in the United Solo Festival in New York City and was named a 2016 Festival Bestseller. Massie was given the Best Actress Award in the 2017 SaraSolo Festival in Sarasota, Florida; the Audience Choice Award for the 2017 Shenandoah Fringe in Staunton, Virginia; the Outstanding Performance in a Solo Show Award for the 2017 Planet Connections Theatre Festivity in NYC; the Best Actress Award in the 2017 Galway Fringe in Galway, Ireland; and the Audience Choice and Sold Out Awards in the 2017 IndyFringe Festival in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The show was developed in the artist-in-residence program at the Grange Hall Cultural Center in Waterbury Center, Vermont in 2016 and performed there in March of 2017. It was also presented at DivaFest 2017 in Indianapolis in March of 2017; at Gamut Classic Theatre in Harrisburg in July of 2017; in a special NYC performance for Hedy Lamarr’s family and biographers in April of 2017; in a special invited performance at The Stag’s Head in Dublin, Ireland in July of 2017; and at the 2017 Charm City Fringe in Baltimore, Maryland in November of 2017.

Massie performed the show in the 2017 Intwasa Arts Festival in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, facilitated by the U.S. Embassy. She served as a cultural evoy to the 2008 Intwasa Arts Festival as assistant to Tony-nominated playwriting instructor Leslie Lee. She returned to Intwasa to present “Hedy!” in her Leslie Lee Memorial Tour and continued the tour in Cape Town, South Africa at the Alexander Bar, Cafe & Theatre and the Cape Town Science Centre. In December of 2017, she performed the show aboard the USS Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City for their GOALS for Girls program and in a lecture recording for NPR/WITF’s “MindMatters” program for the Department of Aging in Pennsylvania.

She returned to the SaraSolo Festival in 2018 to present an encore performance and a lecture on Hedy Lamarr. In February, she was the keynote lecturer for the 2018 Inspirefest Salon New York. A special performance of the show was presented at the Austrian Cultural Forum New York in NYC in honor of International Women’s Day and the Austrian Remembrance Year on March 6, 2018. Massie delivered a lecture on Hedy Lamarr on International Women’s Day at Siegel+Gale in NYC and performed the show at Millersville University in Millersville at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont and at the Grange Hall Cultural Center in Waterbury Center, Vermont in April of 2018.

In May of 2018, Massie presented the show at the Harare International Festival of the Arts in Harare, Zimbabwe; the Unizulu Science Centre Science Festival in Durban, South Africa; the Thope Foundation in Khayelitsha, South Africa; the Makukhanye Art Room in Khayelitsha, South Africa; Women in Tech in Cape Town, South Africa; George Arts Theatre in George, South Africa; and the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Plans are underway for further productions in international festivals, regional theatres, universities, museums, libraries, schools, and scientific and cultural organizations. This project is recommended and supported in part by the Austrian Cultural Forum New York.

This is the first in Massie’s planned trilogy of solo plays celebrating women in science.

The Scranton Fringe Festival is dedicated to creating a bold and engaging platform for creative and thought-provoking art with minimal risk to artist and audience. Regional as well as touring artists are welcomed to present work with no censorship placed on content or artistic expression while striving to promote Scranton as a viable and creative environment. The Scranton Fringe Festival is held annually across several consecutive days in multiple venues throughout downtown Scranton. Theatre, music, dance, film, comedy, puppetry, and every other sort of performing arts production imaginable are welcomed on the fringe. The festival is kept accessible and affordable for artists (no application fees, comparably small production fees) and audiences (special free programming, affordable tickets, hopper passes, etc.) alike. This year’s event will take place on Saturday, Sept. 22 through Sunday, Sept. 30 in 13 different venues.