More than a play: Exploring engagements with science theatre

More than a play: Exploring engagements with science theatre

Author: Emma Weitkamp – UWE, United Kingdom


  • Carla Almeida – Museum of Life, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), Brazil
  • Sergio De Regules – ¿Cómoves? Magazine, Dirección General de Divulgación de la Ciencia, Universidad Nacional Autónoma, Mexico
  • Frank Kupper – Athena Institute, Faculty of Science, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Hien Tran Minh – Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, Vietnam

Recent years have seen a burst of interest in theatre that engages with science themes, whether that is widely regarded plays such as Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen performed in national theatre venues, or bespoke performances addressing topics of community interest in venues ranging from science museums and festivals to schools. The assumption underlying much of this interest is that theatre will engage the hearts and minds with science in a way that factual representations cannot. Thus, theatre is seen as offering an opportunity to reach out to audiences who might not otherwise take an interest in scientific issues. This roundtable discussion seeks to engage critically with the diversity of science themed theatre, whether that is diversity in the ways in which such performances arise and the theatrical styles they adopt, the different spaces they occupy and what we know about the publics they attract and their impact. In this sense, it will bring different perspectives on the theme, coming from both practice and research experiences, from different parts of the globe. It will critically consider the ways in which science theatre engages publics in debates about inclusion and diversity in science and raises cultural and science capital; it will explore community engagement in health through drama in low-income contexts; the contribution of participatory theatre to public dialogue and the extent to which it contributes to the democractising of science and technology; and the concept of translation will be considered in the context of science theatre. Ultimately, the intention of the panel is to present and analyse a spectrum of approaches, audiences and levels of participation – from professional shows to community-led, participatory theatre that aims for deep, reflective engagement – and to stimulate discussion around when and how these approaches can be used to achieve engagement aims.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Roundtable discussion
Theme: Time