Science on Stage: From "Doctor Faustus" to "Copenhagen" / Edition 1 available in Hardcover
- Pub. Date:
- 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 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.
|Publisher:||Princeton University Press|
|Edition description:||New Edition|
|Product dimensions:||6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
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.
Table of Contents
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
Alternating Currents: New Trends in Science and Theater 199
Appendix: Four Centuries of Science Plays: An Annotated List 219
What People are Saying About This
Shepherd-Barr's work represents a significant contribution to this emerging field by offering the first sustained taxonomy of science plays and a credible context for evaluating the importance of the subgenre. The book will interest many across a range of fields and interests.
Mike Vanden Heuvel, Department of Theatre and Drama, University of Wisconsin
Well-written and extremely timely. The book performs an invaluable service of placing the phenomenon of science plays in context, and of reanalyzing older plays from our current vantage point.
Robert Osserman, Professor Emeritus, Stanford University and Special Projects Director, the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute
Kirsten Shepherd-Barr explores contemporary theater at the intersection of science and performance. She deals with subjects such as quantum mechanics, chaos theory, evolution, and genetics and focuses on work by superb playwrights such as Michael Frayn and Tom Stoppard, as well as alternative theatrical events that literally change the way of doing theater. In the process, she raises timeless questions about truth, morality, and social responsibility. This is a scholarly tour de force equally accessible to scientists, artists, and humanists.
Brian Schwartz, Professor of Physics and Director of the Science and the Arts Program, the Graduate Center of the City University of New York