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The Director
The Playwright
The Play
Finding the Focus
Characters & Structure
The Learning Curve
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The  Actors
Michael Frayn

The Play

The Idea 

The idea for Copenhagen came to me out of my interest in philosophy.

It was when I read a remarkable book called Heisenberg's War by Thomas Powers, that I came across the story of Werner Heisenberg's visit to Niels Bohr in 1941. As soon as I read it I began to think that this story reflected some of the problems that I had been thinking about in philosophy for a long time.

How we know why people do what they do, and even how one knows what one does oneself.

It's a fundamental question... this is the heart of the play.

Cover from Heisenberg's War

Book cover, Heisenberg's War


We can [in theory] never know everything about human thinking.

I wanted to suggest with Copenhagen that there is some kind of parallel between the indeterminacy of human thinking, and the indeterminacy that Heisenberg introduced into physics with his famous Uncertainty Principle.

Though I'm not trying to say they're exactly parallel.

The uncertainty principal says that there is no way, however much we improve our instruments, that we can ever know everything about the behavior of a physical object.

And I think it's also true about human thinking.

Werner Heisenberg
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Michael Frayn on Indeterminacy
Photo: Werner Heisenberg, 1927 Photo credits
See for more information on Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle.



Playwright Michael Frayn



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