‘The Altruists’: A New Play in Development by Menagerie Theatre Company

The Menagerie Theatre Company is developing a new production during 2013. ‘The Altruists’ is the latest play by Craig Baxter who also wrote ‘Let Newton Be!’ and ‘Re:Design‘ (based on the correspondence of Charles Darwin and Asa Gray).

The Altruists‘, which has already won Baxter the STAGE new writing award, concerns George Price, who performed ground breaking work with John Maynard Smith and Bill Hamilton in the 1960s on the mathematical and evolutionary basis of altruism.

The new play had its first public reading in October 2012 and a production is in development this year. Craig Baxter and director Patrick Morris will be speaking about the ‘The Alturists’ at a special event at Cambridge Science Festival on 23 March 2013.

Two Performances of ‘Mr Darwin’s Tree’ in Oxford

The touring production of ‘Mr Darwin’s Tree’ by Murray Watts is being performed in Oxford later this week. Andrew Harrison, who plays Charles Darwin in this one-man show, gave a very strong performance when StageScite saw the production at the Kings Head Theatre last year. The play gives a moving account of Darwin’s family relationships, his personal struggles and his work.

‘Mr Darwin’s Tree’ is being performed at St. Andrews Church in Oxford on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd February 2013 at 7.30pm.

Tom Stoppard Celebrated in the States

A new production of Tom Stoppard’s ‘Arcadia’ is underway in Indiana, USA  – a few weeks before the Writers Guild of America plans to honour the playwright for his contributions to screenwriting.

The Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette’s production of ‘Arcadia’ is playing on Fridays and Saturdays until 2nd February. The town of Lafayette is about 100 miles southeast of Chicago.

Set across two centuries and encompassing mathematics, chaos theory, poetry and landscape gardening, Stoppard’s 1993 play is one of the classics of the science in theatre genre. The director of the Lafayette production, Rachel Lambert, describes ‘Arcadia’ further in this short video on the theatre’s website.

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On the 17th February in Los Angeles Sir Tom Stoppard will receive the Laurel Award from the Writers Guild of America for his contributions to screenwriting. Stoppard’s prolific film writing credits include ‘Shakespeare in Love’ with Marc Norman (1993) and the 2012 film adaption of Tolstoy’s ‘Anna Karenina’.

‘The Effect’ Wins Best New Play Award

‘The Effect’, the new play by Lucy Prebble has won ‘Best New Play’ in the Critic’s Circle Theatre Awards at a lunchtime ceremony on 15th January. The sell-out National Theatre/Headlong production opened in November 2012 to very positive reviews in the UK press.

The play is set in a clinical trials facility and follows the relationship between two trial participants Connie (played by Billie Piper) and Tristan (Jonjo O’Neill). A short video including brief comments from Lucy Prebble about an early read-through has recently been posted on the production website.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcfBaylRHDQ?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

‘The Effect’ runs at the National’s Cottesloe Theatre until 23 February 2013  – although only day tickets and returns are available.

‘The Physicists’ on BBC Radio 3

Just one week on from airing Michael Frayn’s ‘Copenhagen’, Radio 3 will be broadcasting another play featuring physicists – and this time they’re mad. Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s ‘The Physicists’ was first staged in 1962 and was revived at London’s Donmar Warehouse in 2012 to rather mixed reviews. Set in a lunatic asylum, ‘The Physicists’ is less intellectually demanding than ‘Copenhagen’ but the two plays are linked by the sense of a possible nuclear threat. The new BBC Radio 3 version will feature actors Samantha Bond and Geoffrey Whitehead and goes out at 8.30pm on Sunday 20th January 2013.

Turning the Page: Interpreting Copenhagen

Two new interviews are available in anticipation of Sunday’s broadcast of Michael Frayn’s ‘Copenhagen at 8.30pm on Radio 3, starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

Frayn was interviewed by Michael Sweet on Radio 3’s Night Waves earlier this week. The pair discussed the science behind ‘Copenhagen’ as well as the radio version of Frayn’s book ‘Skios’. Speculating on why Heisenberg may have visited Bohr in 1941, Frayn suggested that “one understands oneself through one’s relations with other people.” He commented that perhaps Heisenberg wanted to “see the reflection of himself in Bohr to understand himself better.”

In another interview, the Radio Times spoke with the cast of ‘Copenhagen’ during a break in the recording of of the play. Simon Russell Beale, who plays Bohr, revealed that he is ‘hopeless at the page-turning’. Beale is no stranger to radio scripts but it seems the lengthy speeches in ‘Copenhagen’ were enough to give even this highly accomplished actor a sleepless night.

Caroline Herschel Has Starring Role in New Play

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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BBC Radio 3 to Broadcast ‘Copenhagen’ in January

BBC Radio 3 will be broadcasting a new version of Michael Frayn ‘s ‘Copenhagen’ this January. Benedict Cumberbatch will play Werner Heisenberg and Simon Russell-Beale will play Niels Bohr in the new radio adaption, which is directed by Emma Harding. Greta Scacchi will play Bohr’s wife Margrethe.

Earlier in the year Prof. Jim Al-Khalili indicated on Twitter that he helped Cumberbatch prepare for the part with a special discussion on theoretical physics.

The new 90 minute ‘Copenhagen’ will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 at 8.30pm on Sunday 13 January 2013.


Updated 10 January 2013:

Director Emma Harding has written a post at the Radio 3 Blog about inviting Jim Al-Khalili to the read-throughs of ‘Copenhagen’ and her interpretation of the play.

The Curtain Rises on StageScite

There are a growing number of plays that integrate some element of science, mathematics or the history of science. Some have been around for a while and are well-known and frequently discussed such as Michael Frayn’s ‘Copenhagen’ or Tom Stoppard’s ‘Arcadia’. Others are by new or emerging writers, staged for the first time in small fringe venues, seeking fresh audiences and recognition.

At StageScite we aim to draw attention to dramatic productions that integrate scientific themes or scientists. Mathematics, engineering and medicine are fair game too as well as plays about historical characters.

StageScite is based in the UK but new plays are being written and staged all over the world so please let us know about your new projects, plays and reviews or join the discussion about the classics.

The audience are seated and the house lights are dimmed so let’s raise the curtain on the opening scenes of StageScite.