Art Beat special feature: Celebrate Women’s History Month with Driftwood’s ‘Ada and the Engine’

March 1-17, Wade James Theatre, 950 Main Street, Edmonds

Playwright Lauren Gunderson is known for works that focus on forgotten female figures in history, science, and literature. Ada and the Engine is the inspiring story of Ada Byron Lovelace, considered the world’s first computer programmer.

Ada (Guneet Kaur Banga) writing.

Lovelace is a fascinating character and Guneet Kaur Banga plays her with earnestness.

Lovelace was the only legitimate daughter of the notorious poet Lord Byron. When she was young, her mother, the overbearing Lady Anabella Byron (played by Ingrid Sanai Buron), whisked her away to remove her from her father’s influence and the two never met again. She immersed her daughter in a world of mathematics, convinced the sciences would keep Ada logical and safe from the dangers of passion caused by the arts.

Nonetheless, Ada has a fervent love of mathematics that butts against her mother’s desire for rigidity. As Ada tells her mother, “I’d rather be dark and genius than sunny and useless.”

Ada (Guneet Kaur Banga) and Babbage (Sumant Gupta) editing.

Math may not be considered the language of love, but Ada and the Engine tells the story of a romance ignited by a shared love of mathematics.

Ada meets the older mathematician and inventor, Charles Babbage, and the two seem to light up around each other. Babbage’s design for the first computer, the engine of the play’s title, is the fuel to the flame of Ada’s brilliance. She helps perfect his ideas and sees their potential.

Though Ada desires to be a “bride of science,” her mother pushes her to marry the tepid Lord Lovelace (Played by BJ Smyth from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, in a much more subdued role). Ada continues to work alongside Babbage throughout her brief life.

Though the two never realize their dreams of having the engine built, their design is the forefather of the modern computer.

(From left): BJ Smyth, Guneet Kaur Banga, Ingrid Sanai Buron and Sumant Gupta.

The performances in this show were passionate, no doubt driven by an enthusiasm to bring this little-known woman’s life to light. The cast’s heart for the production shines bright.

Matthew Ircink and Diane Johnston hard at work on alterations.

The costumes are particularly beautiful and versatile. Costume changes by Ada on stage help show the passage of time. The costume team worked on alterations in the lobby during the dress rehearsal to prepare everything for opening night.

Only 25% of the seats remain and tickets ($18-28) are moving quickly; get tickets here.

Guests of the show will have the opportunity to participate in a Guess the Legos contest to earn an iPad. Can your engineering brain guess how many legos are in the jar? EDP will be selling $5 raffle tickets in the lobby of each show. The closest guess after the final performance wins.

Content warning: This production contains some adult themes and is best suited for ages teen+.

Lighting/fog: Although there is no strobe effect, this production includes some rotating/moving light effects and fog towards the end of the show.

Run time: Approximately two hours, including a 15-minute intermission.

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Looking for more opportunities to celebrate Women’s History Month?

Sno-Isle Libraries has compiled a list of books, resources and events here.

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Another play shining a light on women: ‘Carried by the Current’ is a riveting theatrical journey unveiled by women’s work productions

A photo from the show’s preview at the Edmonds Bookshop in Feb. 2020.

March 7-17, The PUD Theatre, 2320 California Street, Everett

Women’s Work Productions, in collaboration with award-winning playwright Nicola Pearson, is thrilled to announce Carried by the Current, a compelling theater production set to grace the stage of the PUD Theatre.

The play was previewed at Edmonds Bookshop in February 2020 during its fundraising journey. It is finally making it to production after being held back by Covid.

Carried by the Current is an award-winning play by local author Nicola Pearson about The Women’s Commonwealth of Belton, Texas. In 1870, Martha McWhirter created the first safe house for women in the United States and led all who joined her on a journey to financial independence and great success. Watch the dramatization of this captivating true story of the struggle to triumph.

Opening night on March 7 offers a unique “Pay What You Can,” making the production accessible to a wider audience and inviting all to experience this powerful piece of women’s history.

For more information, tickets (from $20), and to view a promotional video, visit the Women’s Work Productions website and give them a follow on Facebook and Instagram.

— By Elizabeth Murray

(Photo by Brittany Gross)

Elizabeth Murray is a freelance writer thankful to call Edmonds home. When she’s not busy wrangling her two kids (and husband), you can find her playing ukulele. She can be reached at

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