The hard problem of science in theatre – A British perspective

Making science theatrical without short-sheeting either has proven a tough proposition. Playwrights have tried to portray scientists and/or their underlying ideas to varying degrees of success. Scientists have tried writing plays with approximately equal results.

‘Arcadia’ stands alone as serving both sides equally well. Excluding the slogs through tedious characters mattress-surfing, Stoppard finds a delicate balance where science and story reinforce each other. By contrast, Frayn’s overpraised ‘Copenhagen’ made little impression when it came to LA in 2001. Among LA’s homegrown productions, the first half of Nancy Keystone‘s ‘Apollo, Part 1’ insightfully captured the contradictory, chaotic workings of the technical enterprise. Given the smarts in both cultures, it is surprising that the bridge between them is so rickety.

Here’s a lengthy all-sides-included panel discussion on the topic jointly sponsored by the Royal Society and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

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