A theatre performance by Portraittheater Vienna
in co-operation with Freie Universität Berlin
Video (Trailer 3:59)
Emmy Noether (1882-1935) was one of the most influential mathematicians of the last century. Her works and teachings left a lasting mark on modern algebra, opening new avenues for a modern structural perspective in mathematics. Noether began her studies at a time when women were only beginning to break down the barriers that prevented them from entering the doors of German universities. She eventually overcame even stronger resistance when she applied for the right to teach at a German university. It took her four years before she acquired that certification (Habilitation) in Göttingen on June 4, 1919, after submitting a thesis in which she solved one of the central problems in Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
To celebrate the centenary of this event and the career of a unique personality in the history of mathematics, the ensemble Portraittheater Vienna produced a biographical play, directed by Sandra Schüddekopf and starring Anita Zieher as Emmy. It opened on June 4, 2019 at the Freie Universität Berlin. Afterwards the play has been performed with great success at several different universities throughout Germany as well as the Theater Drachengasse in Vienna under the title “Mathematische Spaziergänge mit Emmy Noether”. Based on historical documents and events, the script was written by Sandra Schüddekopf and Anita Zieher in cooperation with the historians Mechthild Koreuber and David E. Rowe. Financial support for the original production was provided by three universities in Berlin (Freie Universität, Humboldt-Universität, Technische Universität), and four other German universities (Erlangen-Nürnberg, Göttingen, Mainz, and Bielefeld).
“Diving into Math with Emmy Noether,” had two very successful tour in the USA in September 2022 and September 2023, with performances e.g. at Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Chicago, University of Michigan, Bryn Mawr College, Smith College, Vassar College and Pitzer College. In October 2023 we performed the play at the Sorbonne Université in Paris.
Jemma Lorenat, Associate Professor of Mathematics, Pitzer College in Claremont, California
„At moments it feels as if we are in Noether’s classroom and should be taking notes. Anita Zieher captures a warmth and excitement that resonates with the academic enthusiasm one can experience at the best workshops and seminars…. Directed by Sandra Schueddekopf, Diving into Math with Emmy Noether is entertaining and important… unquestionably a resounding success for those of us lucky enough to be in that audience”
John Ewing, President Math for America
The play was terrific – Emmy Noether felt like the real thing. Congratulations to all.
Chris Quigg, Professor of Physics (Emeritus) at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, University of Chicago
„Celebrating a dazzling performance“
Karen Parshall, Professor of Mathematics and History, University of Virginia
I just wanted to say how wonderful I thought the play was. You so beautifully interpret and portray Emmy Noether’s life and spirit. In particular, I thought you perfectly captured her joy of mathematics, which is a sentiment so hard to convey to non-mathematicians, at the same time that you deftly conveyed the many complexities of her life.
John McCleary, Professor of Mathematics, Vassar College
It was a wonderful performance, a remarkable feat of writing and theatrical focus.
Silvie Benzoni, Director Institut Henri Poincaré, Sorbonne Université
Wonderful play regarding an amazing woman, a great mathematician brought back to life by the actress Anita Zieher and the director Sandra Schüddekopf.
Clotilde Fermanian, Professor Université Paris Est – Créteil Val de Marne, Présidente du Comité de culture mathématique de l’Institut Henri Poincaré,
“Superbe représentation à la Sorbonne le 10 octobre! Beaucoup d’émotion face au destin de cette femme exceptionnelle !“
(Eine großartige Aufführung in der Sorbonne am 10. Oktober! Sehr emotional angesichts des Schicksals dieser außergewöhnlichen Frau!)
Jim Ryan, President of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville
“It’s a terrific performance about one of the most important women in the history of mathematics and physics.”
Peter Olver, Professor, School of Mathematics, University of Minnesota
“An amazing performance of „Diving into Math with Emmy Noether“ occurred at the University of Minnesota on September 26, 2023. Anita Zieher’s stunning portrayal of Emmy Noether, directed by Sandra Schueddekopf, gave the impression that one was truly in her presence. Those without mathematical expertise came away with a better understanding, not just of Emmy, her personality, her career, and her difficult times, but also intimations of what it is like to be a research mathematician. Those of us who know Noether’s profound contributions and impact in both mathematics and physics were mesmerized by the play and Anita’s performance. A truly memorable event — do not miss it!”
Duration: 65 minutes
Director: Sandra Schüddekopf
Actress: Anita Zieher
Text: Sandra Schüddekopf, Anita Zieher; original quotes from Emmy Noether and contemporaries
Scientific board: Mechthild Koreuber (Freie Universität Berlin), David Rowe (Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz)
Videos: Karl Börner
Actors on screen: Alexander Fennon, Werner Landsgesell (Voice: Florian Troebinger), Karola Niederhuber (Voice: Anne Weyner), Helmut Schuster, Anita Zieher
Music: Rupert Derschmidt
Costume: Lejla Ganic
Translation: David Rowe
Language Coach: Bronwynn Mertz-Penzinger
Photos: Helena Wimmer, Sandra Schüddekopf
Synchronisation videos: Rupert Derschmidt, Karl Börner
Book “Proving It Her Way – Emmy Noether, a Life in Mathematics”
Authors: David E. Rowe and Mechthild Koreuber
Publisher: Springer, 2020
This book serves as a companion to “Diving into Math with Emmy Noether” by reproducing information and photos from the brochure for the original play. It includes relevant facts about Noether’s life together with brief sketches of the four mathematicians who appear with her on screen, as well as a “Who’s Who” identifying others whose names are mentioned onstage. Readers are thereby afforded easy access to essential facts needed to appreciate the events alluded to in the script. In addition, the book also contains a brief overview of Noether’s life as well as separate chapters providing detailed accounts of important phases in her unique career. These begin with an account of mathematical life in Erlangen, followed by the story behind her unsuccessful attempt to join the Göttingen faculty in 1915, her remarkable contributions toward understanding the status of conservation laws in relativity theory, and crowned by her years of success in Göttingen, where her work in modern algebra spawned a dynamic new international school. The final chapter concerns the last years of her life, after the Nazi government expelled her along with hundreds of other prominent Jewish academics. Her brief years at Bryn Mawr College left a lasting mark on a number of leading mathematicians in the United States.