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9 - Devised Theatre and the Performance of Science

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2021

Kirsten E. Shepherd-Barr
University of Oxford
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Chapter 9: This chapter begins by noting that as science has become more interdisciplinary and recognized as a form of contingent knowledge circulated across cultural fields, devising has emerged as a suitable method for creating performances with scientific content and themes. By virtue of its multivocality (involving a number of authors), its multimodal forms of storytelling and address (through language, dance, physicalization, digital media, installation and site-specific environments, and the like), and its presentational modes, devised performance can often render scientific ideas performative, capturing not just what they ‘are’ but what they ‘do’ and how they disseminate in the public understanding. Across scientific fields that are increasingly interrelated, devised performance provides new ways to move beyond merely conveying scientific ideas, choosing instead to invite spectators actively to map domains of knowledge and construct ideas that are constantly in transit.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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Suggested Reading

Angelaki, Vicky. Theatre & Environment. London, 2019.Google Scholar
Brown, Andrew, and Wetherell, Mole. Trial: A Study of the Devising Process in Reckless Sleepers’ ‘Schrödinger’s Box’. Plymouth, UK, 2007.Google Scholar
Campos, Liliane, and Shepherd-Barr, Kirsten. ‘Science and Theatre in Open Dialogue: Biblioetica, Le Cas de Sophie K. and the Postdramatic Science Play’. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews 31, no. 3 (2006): 245–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Campos, Liliane, and Shepherd-Barr, Kirsten. ‘Searching for Resonance: Scientific Patterns in Complicité’s Mnemonic and A Disappearing Number’. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews 32, no. 4 (2007): 326–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chaudhuri, Una. Research Theatre, Climate Change, and the Ecocide Project. New York, 2016.Google Scholar
Hancock, Alan. ‘Chaos in Drama: The Metaphors of Chaos Theory as a Way of Understanding Drama Process’. N.A.D.I.E. Journal 19, no. 1 (1995): 1526.Google Scholar
Heddon, Deirdre, and Milling, Jane. Devising Performance: A Critical History. Houndsmills, UK, 2006.Google Scholar
Jordan, Andy. ‘Science-in Theatre: A New Genre?’ In Consciousness, Theatre, Literature and the Arts 2013, ed. Meyer-Dinkgräfe, Daniel. Cambridge, 2014, 132.Google Scholar
Kemp, Rick. ‘Devising – Embodied Creativity in Distributed Systems’. In The Routledge Companion to Theatre, Performance, and Cognitive Science, ed. Kemp, Rick and McConachie, Bruce. New York, 2019, 4857.Google Scholar
Lehmann, Hans-Thies. Postdramatic Theatre. New York, 2006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Secord, James A.Knowledge in Transit’. Isis 95, no. 4 (December 2004): 654–72.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Shaughnessy, Nicola. Affective Performance and Cognitive Science: Body, Brain, and Being. London, 2013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Shepherd-Barr, Kirsten. Science on Stage: From “Doctor Faustus” to “Copenhagen”. Princeton, 2006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sleigh, Charlotte, and Craske, Sarah. ‘Art and Science in the UK: A Brief History and Critical Reflection’. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews 42, no. 4 (October 2017): 313–30.Google Scholar
Stanier, Philip. ‘The Distance Covered: Third Angel’s 9 Billion Miles from Home’. In Devising in Process, ed. Mermikides, Alex and Smart, Jackie. Houndmills, UK, 2010, 110–27.Google Scholar
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