In January, I had the pleasure of taking part another discussion about science and theater. This one was hosted by the Science and Entertainment Exchange, a program of the National Academy of Science (NAS). Their mission is to bring scientists together with directors, producers, and writers. As with the Drama of DNA workshop at the NIH, JD Talasek, Director of Cultural Programs at the NAS, gathered D.C. area artists, administrators, and scholars to gauge their interest in producing and writing plays about science.
After a round table of introductions, choreographer, performer, and educator, Liz Lerman spoke about her recent project, The Matter of Origins. Here are key points that resonated with me:
Liz also shared a number of compelling questions that arose in her work:
Next, Ann Merchant, Deputy Executive Director for Communications for NAS, shared more about the mission and vision of the Science & Entertainment Exchange. I was particularly struck by the following:
Ann then shared thoughts from scientist, professor and writer Sidney Perkowitz, on the idea of getting it right:
“You have to bend accuracy. Entertainment starts with an assumption that a lot of scientists don't start with: The story and the science have to somehow blend. You can't just insist the science be 100% accurate. It's better to have some science in there that's more or less accurate, than to have it badly done or not there at all. So [as advisors] we'll bend some in return for having some input.”
We ended the meeting contemplating ways that theatre artists, especially playwrights, and scientists could collaborate:
I was thrilled to continue this conversation. It gave me an opportunity to discuss next steps for my new play, AMONG THESE WILD THINGS, which I’m researching and writing. I have the great fortune of working with Dr. Jim Evans, who you’ll remember from the Drama of DNA workshop, on getting the science right in this play. I hope to have two drafts completed by May. Also, I was able to share ideas about the cross-disciplinary science/theatre initiative that I’m working to cultivate at UNC-Chapel Hill. I’m the fundraising and resource gather stage for this initiative, but can hardly wait to share more as it comes together.
My Day at the National Academy of Sciences
It's hard to believe that my residency at JMU is coming to a close. It's been such a rich, rewarding, and rigorous week. I've had the opportunity to share many valuable lessons that I've learned in my career thus far as a theatre artist . While my days have been filled with classroom visits, brown bag discussions, a master class on theater leadership and advocacy and a powerful faculty meeting on diversity in theatre and dance curriculum and practices, I've spent my evenings in rehearsal for a devised performance that addresses issues of age, race, class, gender, ability, ethnicity, and sexuality. I've been so impressed by these students, by their talent, focus, commitment, creativity and enthusiasm to bring these issues to the stage. We're in performance tonight at 8:00pm and will invite the audience to take part in an interactive post show discussion.
Please enjoy these photos of my wonderful collaborators: Fabiolla Brennecke, Kara Burgess, Justin Burns, Marion Grey, Rebecca Klein, Jonathan Martin, Frances Nejako, Kelly Rudolph, Christopher Sanderson, Alexi Siegel, Madison Tolley, Angela Trovato, Rachael Ulmer, Vaden Vosteen, and Gabriela Wolfe.
First Rehearsal for JMU Devised Performance
I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!