An Interview with Mr. Hengst: The Farnsworth Invention

Mr. Hengst’s notes on The Farnsworth Invention – Mr. Darren Hengst

After the success of last year’s Something Rotten! and Peter and the Starcatcher, this year the drama department will present The Farnsworth Invention, a play that follows Philo Farnsworth, who comes up with the idea for the first all-electronic television. However, the president of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), David Sarnoff, steals the idea. 

Mr. Darren Hengst, The Grace and Mahlon Buck Chair in Performing Arts and the production’s director, is excited to get started on the show. 

“We have a ton of talented gentlemen, very dedicated to the program, so I wanted to do a show that highlighted as many of them as possible,” Mr. Hengst said. “This is a great story, it has great characters, but also there’s a lot of roles, so it’s gonna highlight a lot of guys.” 

Mr. Hengst is most looking forward to working on such a dynamic and entertaining script.

“I love the script, and I love the writer himself, it’s Aaron Sorkin, who wrote The West Wing and A Few Good Men… I love the way he writes dialogue, so that’s exciting that we get to work on one of his scripts,” he said. “I love historical drama, and this is an event that took place that I wasn’t really aware of, so I loved researching that and getting to know more about that event, the creation of the television.” 

The most rewarding part of the process in pretty much any show I’ve done is during tech week when the students feel comfortable with the script and in their intentions of the characters

Mr. Darren hengst

With rehearsals only just beginning, there’s still much work to do before the final product takes Centennial Hall’s stage in November. For many, the preparation grows enjoyable as things begin to fall into place as the weeks roll by.

Mr. Hengst most appreciates the final week, where students put their weeks of practice into a last week of rehearsal before showtime.

“The most rewarding part of the process in pretty much any show I’ve done is during tech week when the students feel comfortable with the script and in their intentions of the characters, [so they are] basically comfortable with everything they’re doing in the show,” Mr. Hengst said. “They make it their own show, rather than something they’ve been rehearsing.”