I was excited by the opportunity to contribute to a science play, written by a colleague Rowena Fletcher-Wood, as I mentioned in the last news I posted. We are now much further down the line and performances begin this week. We have a director from the Globe Theatre and a cast of actors, not scientists. It is this last element that has been one of the most rewarding aspects for many reasons.
When I perform a show, I’m familiar with the subject I am delivering. I know the science and I know the links that thread the aspects together. However, to sit with actors and breakdown the science, the culture and the characters they were playing has been a joy to behold. I’ve never seen any group of students so eager to be fascinated by knowledge they had once filed away in the mental folder of ‘science I heard at school’. Within an hour they were comparing notes and discussing the merits of their competing theories, taking great leaps forward in reference to the epistemologies of their characters and philosophy. Me and Rowena provided demonstrations of the scientific ideas they would have known, highlighting where these are now found in contemporary culture and application. A chance for them to share our passion for our discipline.
On the other hand, I have learned so much from the actors and also our director, Tatty Hennessey. Previously, I referred to the ‘Notes on Directing’ book recommended by Jonathan Sanderson at the Science Communication conference in Guildford. Of course, I read that very quickly but have now had opportunity to watch the work of a director with a little knowledge of how the process is undertaken. Sure my acting is still terrible, so it’s just as well James Clerk Maxwell doesn’t have too many lines.
I’m keen to talk with my new peers and find out if their experience of dipping into a science world for a couple of weeks has any affect on how they perceive the importance of scientific heritage and contemporary culture. Think we’ll get the play out of the way first. I promise photos too.
Performances were in the historic Cadbury Room, St Francis Hall on the edge of the University of Birmingham campus, Wednesday 24th to Saturday 27th September.