Einstein visits the Center for Innovation

Published 11:14 pm Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Einstein visit: Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts staff Paul Lasakow, Jody Mazur, and Jackie Cherry; Board Chair of CHROME Sharon Waters; and James McArthur, vice president for the Lockheed Martin Center for Innovation, stand with Albert Einstein impersonator Ed Metzger at the Lockheed Martin Center for Innovation Wednesday prior to Metzger’s tour of the facility. Metzger toured the facility to promote interest in math and science for Suffolk students.

Albert Einstein visited Suffolk yesterday.

Actually, the visitor was Ed Metzger, who impersonates Einstein and will be performing at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts this weekend. He visited the Lockheed Martin Center for Innovation to spark public school students’ interests in math, science and related fields.

The Center for Innovation, together with the Suffolk Public Schools System, CHROME, the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts and Metzger, teamed up to develop a way to encourage student’s interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects, while also promoting Metzger’s upcoming weekend performances.

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They decided that the best way to encourage students to pursue those fields would be to host a presentation for students through Metzger’s “Close Encounters with Einstein” program and to host a visit from Metzger.

“Who better than Einstein to encourage students to consider the STEM subjects?” said Michael Mulleavey, communications manager at the Center for Innovation. “A society succeeds only if it invests in future generations.”

The visit would not only encourage children in STEM subjects, but it would also serve as a reward for Metzger for hosting the student presentations. After the morning program that was attended by 200-300 students, Metzger and his wife, Laya went to the Center for Innovation for their tour.

“It’s a gratifying thing for both of us,” Metzger said. “I enjoyed going out there and they enjoyed having us.”

During the tour, Metzger saw the facilities first hand, piloted a simulated plane, asked questions about the science behind the facility and told stories from Einstein’s life.

“Einstein would be absolutely delighted that there are centers in the community to promote science and help to motivate students to the option of a career along those lines,” Metzger said. “He was all for it. He would have been delighted and thrilled.”

Metzger began his career portraying Einstein in the late ‘70s. He wanted to portray a famous person in history and considered portraying Einstein, but wanted to portray him as more than just a scientist. His decision to portray Einstein was solidified by a visit to the home of Einstein’s son, Hans Albert Einstein, in which he discovered that Einstein liked to tell jokes.

This added the character that he needed to make the show interesting.

The show premiered in 1978 in Los Angeles, Calif., where it was a hit. Then with the support of friend Al Pacino and others, he opened in New York in 1979 during the celebration of Einstein’s birthday anniversary. The show became big on Broadway.

“Before you know it, I had something going,” Metzger said.

Being a science major in college has aided Metzger in portraying the scientist.

“If I didn’t have the science background it would be very cliche-ish,” he said. “My background allowed me to decipher those things in a very elementary way and put that in the show. All of these things became more familiar to me because of my science background.”

“Ed Metzger as Einstein: The Practical Bohemian” will begin at the SCCA March 19 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. To purchase, call 923-2900 or visit www.suffolkcenter.org.