by Ron Elisha

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by Ron Elisha

What do John F. Kennedy, Stanley Kubrick, Tom Schelling, Peter Sellers and Frank Sinatra have in common?

Tom Schelling won the Nobel Prize in 2005 for his work in game theory.

He began his career soon after World War II as an economist involved in the Marshall Plan. By the early 60s, he had become a widely respected nuclear strategist, whose connection with Robert McNamara (JFK's Secretary of Defense) meant that his influence fed directly into White House policy.
Many give him (and his work) credit for the US having averted all-out nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Some also credit him with having been instrumental in moving the US towards involvement in Vietnam.

At the time Schelling was publishing his work on nuclear strategy, an article he wrote of the London Observer was noticed by Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick met with Schelling, and the idea for Dr Strangelove was born.

In a complex and disarming work that weaves its way between the world of realpolitik and the 'reality' of film-making, The Schelling Point explores the fanciful and ultimately romantic game theory notion that human behaviour is largely rational.

Using the Schelling Point - the point at which two parties who are unable to communicate can reach a common ground - as its focal point, the play undercuts the political landscape of the 60s with the personal crises of its protagonists, played out to the emotional rhythms of Sinatra's unrepentant romanticism.

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