The Light Years

by  Hannah Bos, Paul Thureen, Oliver Butler

Full Length Play, Dramatic Comedy  /  4m, 1f, 1boy(s)

Critic's Pick! "A theatrical cabinet of wonders. A wistful, cockeyed play that celebrates American dreamers. Four stars!" - Time Out New York

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    4m, 1f, 1boy(s)
  • Duration


    120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre


  • Accolades


    From Off-Broadway
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult

Additional Info

Behold the Spectatorium: an audacious, visionary 12,000-seat theater designed for the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 by Steele MacKaye, the now-forgotten theatrical impresario around whom this haunted, forty-year love story spins. The Light Years is an epic, intimate tale of two families struggling to meet their future, and a spectacular tribute to man’s indomitable spirit of invention. 
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Critic's Pick! "A theatrical cabinet of wonders. A wistful, cockeyed play that celebrates American dreamers. Four stars!" - Time Out New York, Read More

"Sparks fly! A gentle meditation on dreams and disappointment, but electricity crackles throughout." - TheaterMania, Read More 

"Bound and threaded by a belief in creativity and wonder; a wide-eyed pleasure in all that we don't know, and then bamboozle ourselves trying to invent." - The Daily Beast, Read More 


  • The Debate Society discusses The Light Years
  • Playwrights Horizons trailer for The Light years
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Performing Groups

  • College Theatre / Student
  • Professional Theatre
  • Large Stage
  • Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups


  • Caution Alcohol Alcohol

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $90 per performance
  • Mandatory Music/Media Fee: $25 per performance



  • Time Period: 1930s, Victorian (British and American)
  • Duration: 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Setting: The 1893 and 1933 World's Fairs in Chicago
  • Additional Features: Special Effects
  • Features / Contains: Period Costumes


4m, 1f, 1boy(s)

STEELE MACKAYE (M - Late 40s/Early 50s) - A famous (but now forgotten) late 19th century theater impresario known for his acting, directing, writing and inventing. He has designed and is building a theater at the 1893 World’s Fair. 
HILARY - (M - Mid 30s) - An electrician who works for Steele MacKaye.
ADELINE -  (F - Early 30s) - A turn-of-the-century spitfire. From a wealthy family. Married to Hillary.
HONG SLING - (M - Mid 30s) - A Chinese laborer working with Hillary.

(F - Early 30s) - Bears a striking resemblance to Adeline.
LOU - (M - Mid 30s) – Ruth’s husband. A jingle writer at the 1933 World’s Fair.  
CHARLIE - (M) - Ruth and Lou’s 11-year-old son.

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Cast Attributes

  • Role(s) for Asian Actor(s)
  • Roles for Children



Hannah Bos

Hannah Bos (writer/actor) is a founder and co-Artistic Director of The Debate Society, an Obie Award winning Theater Company. She has co-written and starred in all of the company’s plays: Jacuzzi (Ars Nova), Blood Play (Bushwick Starr/The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival/Williamstown Theatre Festival), Buddy C ...

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Paul Thureen

Paul Thureen is a founding member and co-Artistic Director of The Debate Society, co-writing and starring in A Thought About Raya, The Snow Hen, You’re Welcome, The Eaten Heart, Cape Disappointment, Detroit and Buddy Cop 2. Recent New Yo ...

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Oliver Butler

Oliver is a founding member and co-Artistic Director of The Debate Society and has directed and toured with the company. In New York Mr. Butler has directed the world premieres of The Lapsburgh Layover, Buddy Cop 2, Cape Disappointment, Goodbye New York Goodbye Heart, The Eate ...

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The Light Years was originally produced as a part of the Powerhouse Season at Vassar College with new York Stage and Film in the summer of 2015. The show premiered at Playwrights Horizons in new York City in March 2017 under the direction of Oliver Butler.

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