Science on Stage: From

Science on Stage: From "Doctor Faustus" to "Copenhagen" / Edition 1

by Kirsten Shepherd-Barr
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691121508

ISBN-13: 9780691121505

Pub. Date: 05/30/2006

Publisher: Princeton University Press

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

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Overview

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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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691121505
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
05/30/2006
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
264
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction 1

CHAPTER 1: The Tradition of Science Plays 15

CHAPTER 2: Why Theater? The Appeal of Science Plays Now 41

CHAPTER 3: "Living Newspapers" and Other Plays about Physics and Physicists 61

CHAPTER 4: Copenhagen Interpretations: The Epistemology of Intention 91

CHAPTER 5: Evolution in Performance: The Natural Sciences on Stage 111

CHAPTER 6: Mathematics and Thermodynamics in the Theater 128

CHAPTER 7: Doctors' Dilemmas: Medicine under the Scalpel 155

CHAPTER 8: "Just a Fiction": Staging History and Truth 182

Conclusion
Alternating Currents: New Trends in Science and Theater 199

Appendix: Four Centuries of Science Plays: An Annotated List 219

Notes 231

Bibliography 253

Index 263

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