“If we survive, then maybe they’ll survive.”

“And once more see the stars?”

Written and directed by Jonathan Levi, with music by Bruce Saylor, Falling Bodies, is a work for two actors, violin, flute and percussion, based on the lives of the Italian scientist-poets Galileo Galilei and Primo Levi. The historical Galileo, a 17th-century Florentine called The Father of Modern Science by Albert Einstein, turned his telescope to the heavens and came too close to the sun for the religious politics of his day. Condemned by the Inquisition in Rome for his writings in support of the Copernican theory that the earth revolved around the sun, he was forced to spend his waning years under house arrest. Primo Levi, who won honors as a chemistry student in Turin in the 1930’s, even under the anti-semitic racial laws of Italian Fascism, finished out his own days as the manager of a paint factory, his scientific progress interrupted by WWII and deportation to Auschwitz.


When I began work on Falling Bodies, I imagined these two persecuted, Italian scientists encountering one another in an indistinct present—at the Tower of Pisa, in a café watching a soccer match, before the Inquisition. In the Spring of 2009, I received an invitation from the great Georgian director Robert Sturua to stage Falling Bodies for the first time at the Rustaveli National Theatre. As I began to collaborate with the designer Temur Ninua and met the actors and musicians of Tbilisi, I saw the opportunity to make this rather obscure story concrete. I have cast two superb Georgian actresses, Tatuli Dolidze and Lela Alibegashvili, as two women who wander into the ruins of a grand, Soviet-era ballroom in the aftermath of the 1993 Tbilisi war. Disoriented and frozen, they seize on the lives of Galileo and Levi as a way back to civilization. Joined by a family of musicians, they share scientific experiments and difficult memories, in a search for a common language and simple survival.

Written and Directed by Jonathan Levi
Music by Bruce Saylor

Staged Premiere

Rustaveli National Theatre, Tbilisi, Georgia, December 11, 2009
Tatuli Dolidze   Galileo Galilei
Lela Alibegashvili   Primo Levi
Lela Mtchedlidze    Violin
Ketevan Shanidze  Flute
Nika Gvritishvili Percussion
Designed by Temur Ninua
Stage Manager, Rusudan Barbakadze
with the generous support of the Open Society Institute and Queens College.

Concert Performances:

Reflections Series:
The Jewish Museum, Miami, FL, January 8, 2009, January 11, 2009
An Appalachian Summer Festival, Boone, NC, July 6, 2009
Bill Camp   Galileo Galilei
Kathleen McElfresh/Elizabeth Marvel   Primo Levi
Gil Morgenstern   violin and musical direction
Lauren Weiss   flute
Yousif Sheronick   percussion

La Certosa di San Giacomo di Capri, Italy
September 5, 2008 (in English) and September 6 (in Italian)
Enrica Maria Modugno   Primo Levi
Tony Nardi   Galileo Galilei
Gil Morgenstern   violin and musical direction
Lauren Weiss   Flute
Antonio Caggiano   Percussion

An Appalachian Summer Festival, Boone,NC, USA June 29, 2008
Kathleen McElfresh   Primo Levi
Mickey Solis   Galileo Galilei
Gil Morgenstern   violin and musical direction
Lauren Weiss Flute
Yousif Sheronick Percussion





Dec. 11, 2009


Rustaveli National Theatre, Tbilisi, Georgia

Artistic Director, Robert Sturua