The year 2013 has been a good one for the science-in-theatre genre with numerous performances of established classics staged throughout the world as well as new plays appearing on the scene.
The year began with the final few performances of Lucy Prebble’s The Effect at The National Theatre in London. The complexities of love amid a neuropharmacology clinical trial attracted both sell-out audiences and a clutch of awards and nominations for the Headlong/NT team.
The Royal Shakespeare Company’s new version of Brecht’s A Life of Galileo in the Swan Theatre brought audiences to Stratford-Upon-Avon to enjoy a lively and musical production with set-design by Tom Scutt.
Several new plays portraying the history of science opened throughout the year. Operation Epsilon by Alan Brody premiered in Boston USA, dealing with the post-war detention of German nuclear scientists and offering an intriguing postscript to Michael Frayn’s mighty Copenhagen. STELLA, a new play by Sibohan Nicholas featuring portrayals of 18th Century astronomers Caroline and William Herschel, opened in Brighton in May and went on to tour small venues in the UK and Ireland throughout the summer.
A highlight of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August was Adura Onashile’s portrayal of Henrietta Lacks in her one-woman show HeLa. Onashile’s performance brought the story of Lacks treatment in the 1950s and the prolifically multiplying cell line that has lived on in the decades since her death to ever-wider audiences. The wartime code-breaking endeavors of Alan Turing and his colleagues at Bletchley Park were also brought to life at the Edinburgh Festival in Idle Motion’s immensely imaginative That is All You Need to Know.
As ever, Frayn’s Copenhagen and Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia proved popular choices for professional and amateur theatre companies throughout the world. In Hong Kong there was a reading of Copenhagen in Mandarin in October and as well as a revival of a production given by Nobel laureates in Gothenburg in December. The appeal of Arcadia was confirmed this year when it was voted fourth in a list of the Britain’s favorite plays.
There are promising events in store for 2014 with the world premiere of Dava Sobel’s play about Copernicus And the Sun Stood Still set for production in Denver in April. With new tours of STELLA, Hanging Hooke and A Life of Galileo on the cards in the UK as well as a new play about neuroscience on the way from Constellations playwright Nick Payne, 2014 is looking bright for science-in-theatre.
Take the Space theatre company have embarked on an autumn tour of their new play Stella. Having already visited venues in Guildford and Grantham during September, Siobhán Nicholas’ play featuring astronomers Caroline and William Herschel will be performed in Canterbury, Portsmouth, Edinburgh and Eastbourne during October and November.
Further details of the tour dates and venues are available on Take the Space’s website.
The three night run of Stella at the Greenwich Theatre begins on Thursday 11th July. The first night performance will be followed by a Q&A session with the play’s writer Siobhán Nicholas and astronomer Radmila Topalovic.
StageScite caught this new play about Caroline and William Herschel when it premiered at the Old Market Theatre in Brighton in May 2013. Actors Chris Barnes and Kathryn Pogson joined Nicholas on stage to play the four roles, with Barnes doubling up to play the both the husband of present-day astronomer Jessica and William Herschel in the 18th Century. Nicholas herself took on the role of William’s sister Caroline who was his sometime assistant and an accomplished astronomer in her own right.
When musician Bill is offered a job with an orchestra in Germany, the chance to relocate raises a conflict with his wife Jessica whose own successful career as an astronomer is rooted in England. Jessica is also following her historical interest in the Herschels, which takes her on a research trip to Bath to study Caroline Herschel’s private diaries. As Jessica’s investigations progress and her relationship with Bill becomes increasing strained, we are presented with interleaved scenes from the lives of the Herschels, whose own individual aspirations and careers are also pulling them in different directions.
Stella received special mention in the judging for the New Writing South Best New Play Award 2013. It runs at the Greenwich Theatre in London on 11th, 12th and 13th July 2013.
Last month StageScite posted preliminary tour dates for the new science history play Stella, which features astronomers Caroline and William Herschel among its characters. Take the Space Theatre Company will also be be taking Stella to Maidenhead on 11 June and to the Greenwich Theatre in London between 11-13 July, details below.
Stella is in the running for the New Writing South Best New Play award at this year’s Brighton Fringe Festival, where it premieres on 29th May. Writing for the Old Market Theatre, playwright Siobhán Nicholas says that this is the first time Take the Space will open a new production in their home town.
Full Tour Dates for Stella
Performance dates have been announced for the new play about astronomer Caroline Herschel. Stella, by Siobhán Nicholas will have its first performances at the Old Market Theatre in Brighton on 29 and 30 May 2013 as part of the Brighton Fringe Festival. StageScite is also aware of touring performances in Kingston on 4th June, Scarborough on 21st June and Oxford on 27th and 28th June.
Described by Take the Space Theatre Company as a ‘story about women and astronomy’, Stella features Caroline and William Herschel in a drama set across two centuries.
Future Performances of Stella
The acclaimed Take the Space Theatre Company is developing a new production in 2013.‘Stella’ by Siobhán Nicholas is inspired by the lives and work of 18th century astronomers William and Caroline Herschel. The play apparently crosses time and space, also featuring a contemporary fictional astronomer Jessica Bell.
The new production is due to start touring in June 2013. Listen to Siobhán Nicholas talking about writing the play and the many talents of Caroline Herschel in this radio interview from March 2012:
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