Science on Stage: From Doctor Faustus to Copenhagen


Science on Stage is the first full-length study of the phenomenon of science plays--theatrical events that weave scientific content into the plot lines of the drama. The book investigates the tradition of science on the stage from the Renaissance to the present, focusing in particular on the current wave of science playwriting.

Drawing on extensive interviews with playwrights and directors, Kirsten Shepherd-Barr discusses such works as Michael Frayn's Copenhagen and Tom Stoppard's Arcadia. She asks questions such as, What accounts for the surge of interest in putting science on the stage? What areas of science seem most popular with playwrights, and why? How has the tradition evolved throughout the centuries? What currents are defining it now? And what are some of the debates and controversies surrounding the use of science on stage?

Organized by scientific themes, the book examines selected contemporary plays that represent a merging of theatrical form and scientific content--plays in which the science is literally enacted through the structure and performance of the play. Beginning with a discussion of Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, the book traces the history of how scientific ideas (quantum mechanics and fractals, for example) are dealt with in theatrical presentations. It discusses the relationship of science to society, the role of science in our lives, the complicated ethical considerations of science, and the accuracy of the portrayal of science in the dramatic context.

The final chapter looks at some of the most recent and exciting developments in science playwriting that are taking the genre in innovative directions and challenging the audience's expectations of a science play. The book includes a comprehensive annotated list of four centuries of science plays, which will be useful for teachers, students, and general readers alike.


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LibraryThing Review

Nutzerbericht  - Stevil2001 - LibraryThing

This book provides a scholarly overview of various and sundry plays that are about science or scientists. Rereading my notes, I wonder if these plays aren't so much about science per se as history; a ... Vollständige Rezension lesen

LibraryThing Review

Nutzerbericht  - Devil_llama - LibraryThing

A discussion of science depicted on stage. The author is not a scientist, so might be expected to have a different view than scientists about the accuracy. She does consult some scientists about the ... Vollständige Rezension lesen


The Tradition of Science Plays
Why Theater? The Appeal of Science Plays Now
Living Newspapers and Other Plays about Physics
The Epistemology of Intention
The Natural Sciences on Stage
Mathematics and Thermodynamics in the Theater
Medicine under the Scalpel
Staging History and Truth

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Über den Autor (2006)

Kirsten Shepherd-Barr teaches Modern Drama in the Faculty of English at the University of Oxford and is a Fellow of St. Catherine's College, Oxford. She is the author of Ibsen and Early Modernist Theatre, 1890-1900 and has published widely in professional journals ranging from Theatre Research International to American Scientist to Interdisciplinary Science Reviews.

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