A new UK tour of the Royal Court Theatre’s Constellations opens this month and will play at venues throughout England including Liverpool, Bristol and Cambridge until the beginning of July. The production features Joe Armstrong and Louise Brealey, who is perhaps best known for her role in television’s Sherlock. The recent production of Constellations on Broadway has earned Ruth Wilson a Tony Award nomination for playing Marianne in Nick Payne’s one act play about the relationship between a bee keeper and a physicist, played out in multiple universes.
The profile of science in London’s West End, recently raised by the transfer of Tom Morton-Smith’s Oppenheimer, will further increase in September when Michael Grandage stages Photograph 51 at the Noel Coward Theatre. Nicole Kidman will play Rosalind Franklin, the pioneering crystallographer who had a pivotal role in the discovery of the structure of DNA, in the first UK production of Anna Ziegler’s play.
Meanwhile it’s been recently announced that Ophelia Lovibond from BBC satire W1A will play Connie in Sheffield Theatres’ production of Lucy Prebble’s The Effect, which opens at the Cruicible Studio in June.
Finally, Menagerie Theatre Company have announced that their Hotbed Festival in July 2015 will include a new play by Craig Baxter called Pictures of You, inspired by the use of imagery as a treatment in mental health, meaning there is plenty in store for science in theatre in the coming months.
Welcome to new visitors who have arrived via the RSC Chemistry World blog. If you are interested in finding out more about The Effectby Lucy Prebble, there will be a new production in Sheffield in June 2015. Oppenheimer by Tom Morton-Smith opens in the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon on 15th January 2015. The RSC has a Q&A with the writer Tom Morton-Smith here.
Follow the links from each play on sci-stage.com to find details of past productions or browse for new plays and productions using the map, the calendar and Twitter.
New productions opening in January 2015 with a scientific theme include The Hard Problem at the National Theatre and Brainstorm, a devised play by Islington Community Theatre about the teenage brain, in connection with the Wellcome Trust.
There are plenty of opportunities to catch a science-in-theatre production in the sunny southern hemisphere this year. Productions of Lucy Prebble’s The Effectare going on in Australia throughout the year. It’s currently on in Brisbane until 5th July, with opportunities to see it in Sydney and Melbourne in the coming months. Meanwhile, Nick Payne’s Constellations is being produced in South Africa with productions in Johannesburg from 8th August and in Cape Town from 30th September.
Productions of Constellations also open in Wellington, New Zealand on 26th July as in Sydney, Australia on 8th August.
Keep an eye on the Science Centre Stage calendar and map for further details of productions coming up near you.
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.
Lucy Prebble’s The Effect is well-represented in the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards longlist 2013. As well as listing in the Best Play category, Billie Piper and Jonjo O’Neill both make the longlist for acting awards. Rupert Goold is listed in the Best Director category.
The shortlist will be announced on November 8th, ahead of an award ceremony at the Savoy Hotel on 17th November 2013.
Lucy Prebble’s 2012 play set in a clinical trials facility has been shortlisted for another writing prize. The Effect, which has already won a Critics Circle Award is one of five plays nominated for the James Tait Black Prize, coordinated by Edinburgh University. James Tait Black Memorial Prizes for fiction and biography were established in 1919 but this is the first time a prize has been offered for drama. A panel of judges representing Edinburgh University, The National Theatre of Scotland and The Traverse Theatre will decide on the winning play which will be read in Edinburgh on the 5th August 2013.
The Effect was staged at The National Theatre from November 2012 to February 2013 and was a co-production with Headlong. Bille Piper and Jonjo O’Neill starred as a couple who apparently fall in love during a neuropharmacology drug trial.
(Update: The winning play has been announced as The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning by Tim Price.)
Two new science-in-theatre productions have been nominated for British theatre’s prestigious Olivier Awards. Nick Payne’s Constellations is nominated in the Best New Play category as well as receiving nominations for Best Lighting Design and Sound Design for Lee Curran and David McSeveney respectively. Rafe Spall received a Best Actor nomination for his portrayal of a beekeeper opposite Sally Hawkins’ theoretical physicist.
Two performers in the Headlong/National Theatre production of Lucy Prebble’s The Effect have also been nominated. Billie Piper, who played drug trial participant Connie, is up for Best Actress. Anastasia Hille is nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for portraying one of the doctors running the trial.
The winners of the Olivier Awards will be announced at a ceremony at the Royal Opera House on 28th April 2013. Playwright Michael Frayn will also receive a special award for outstanding contributions to theatre. Frayn’s many plays include the Tony Award winning Copenhagen (1998) which considers the 1941 meeting between Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg and remains one of the best-known and influential science-in-theatre plays.
Olivier Award Nominations Announced 26 March 2013
Best Actor Rafe Spall – Constellations
Best Actress Billie Piper – The Effect
Best Actress in a Supporting Role Anastasia Hille – The Effect
MasterCard Best New Play Constellations
White Light Award for Best Lighting Design Lee Curran – Constellations
Best Sound Design David McSeveney – Constellations
Two new ‘science in theatre’ plays that have enjoyed mainstream success in London’s West End have picked up an impressive number of nominations in the ‘What’s On Stage Awards’ 2013.
‘Constellations’ by Nick Payne and ‘The Effect’ by Lucy Prebble have both been nominated in the Best New Play category with Sally Hawkins and Billie Piper each receiving Best Actress nominations for their respective performances.
The Royal Court Theatre’s production of ‘Constellations’ also picked up nominations for Tom Scutt’s set design and Lee Curran’s lighting design.
Both ‘Constellations’ and the National Theatre/Headlong production of ‘The Effect’ have been critically well-received and commercially successful during 2012/13, bringing physics and neuro-pharmacology to the West End stage.
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.