What is the role of Science in Theatre?

Convener(s): Jack Lowe 

Participants: Anna O’Brien, Tyne Rafaeli, Dee Evans, Liam J O’Driscole, Katie Murturgh, James Blakey, Lizzie Wiggs and more – (forgot to ask to sign up! Please do if you were there)

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

The discussion opened with a shared history/experience of theatre which engages with scientific debate. Various projects, small/large scale companies, and issues including:

  • Plymouth Theatre
  • Gecko
  • Sci-Lab
  • Complicité
  • Clod ensemble – performance medecine
  • Danny Boyle’s “Frankenstein” etc
  • Kandinsky, Blast theory and Curious Directive

Discussed other access points to popular science today

  • BBC Horizon
  • The news etc 

What are the questions of ethics in performance about science that we need to keep in mind?

We looked at the difference between putting on theatre which looks at:

  • Specific scientific content
    • LHC
    • Bio-technology
    • Moments of discovery
    • Mnemonic
  • Specific scientific processes
    • Theory
    • Equations
    • Sequences
      • How this can be put into performance 

We discussed/dissected and interrogated the thesis of the “Snow Base: Triptych” – a new science/theatre venue at the Edinburgh International Science festival, taking place in April 2010. Particularly looking at:

  • Which form of performer/audience relationship can be used to tell stories/narrative about science
    • Installation
    • Sculpture
    • Live performance

We looked at the idea of Scientists in co-creation with theatre makers. What can we learn from each other, and how can we inspire one another. Conclusion: “Theatre is not Science’s bitch!” (and vice verse)

Questioned Art/drama/music therapy?

Discussed www.ted.com and it’s role in generating accessible science related performance.

BBC Life, Planet earth = the sort of inspirational support of science which interests us.

Conclusions: Theatre can take a huge amount of inspiration from Science, and Scientists are eager to engage with artists/theatre makers. The process for setting up this relationship takes a huge amount of preparation and thought. We’re all up for it!