Sans Me

The second women-driven Science in Theatre Festival was bringing new interactive performances with timely topics like reproductive rights, popular neurophysiology, and waste recycling. 

From December 9 to 11, three plays and science presentations in the TED talks style were held and live-streamed from New York City’s The Tank Theatre showcasing interdisciplinary collaborations between playwrights and scientists.

The first one, Sans me, was a neurophysiology-based performance about lucid dreaming by published author and Pace University literature professor Catalina Florescu, created in collaboration with neuroscientist Moran Cerf. The play featured characters with vivid monologues who resist serious illnesses. 

Sans Me

In the play, Catalina revealed her own personal story about her mother’s cancer struggle, interweaved with stories of characters coming from  different backgrounds emerging from her subconscious including a story of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Following the play, neuroscientist and professor, Moran Cerf, gave a speech addressing the scientific issues Sans Me raises. 

Sans Me, panel discussion

After that, the presentation of the VR dream incubation app VIVE Dreaming took place, which aimed at helping people gain greater control over their dreams. It was created by psychologist and dream researcher Deirdre Barrett in collaboration with computer animator and creative director of Light Clinic David Lobser.

VIVE Dreaming

On December 10, Can’t Make This Sh*t Up!, a play on turning human waste into energy was showcased. It is based on a story of a scientist Jaeweon Cho from South Korea who invented a toilet that turns human waste into power. Julia B. Rosenblatt, the award-winning playwright, made it local: it’s based on a story of Scarborough 11, where a bunch of people just wanted to live together as a family, but there were all these ridiculous laws preventing them from doing so. The story takes us to the year 2030, when the global average temperature has reached 1.5 °Celsius and cannot afford to rise any higher, so a question arises: if your poop could save the world, would you let it? 

The play was followed by a science presentation by Jaeweon Cho about the peculiarities of sewage transforming into electrical power and ecological currency. “I never imagined my ideas could be made into a wonderful story and finally on stage”, Jaeweon Cho said. Naomi Florea, a writer and designer who studies environmental issues, also shared her vision of practices that will contribute to positive changes in the environment. She recently received a €20,000 grant under the Creatives for Our Future program from the Swarovski Foundation in collaboration with the UN.

On December 11, scenes from the musical “Frozen” about egg freezing, Chinese laws prohibiting unmarried women from doing so, and sprouting BFF Trips (egg-freezing travel industry) were performed in concert with music by Yoonmi Lee. Zhu Yi, the award-winning playwright, doesn’t portray women as victims. Her work is funny, inviting, and shows many layers and different points of view on what a fertility journey looks like. This approach led to the audience’s high involvement in the performance and the discussion about reproductive rights. Many women had the opportunity to speak out and thus received attention and support.

Frozen, panel discussion

“I think that theatre is a huge player in the field of social progress and social debate, and even in philosophical and scientific debate. And I think it’s a part of our job to bring awareness and education around how much people need to be involved in all these subjects, and how important it is for them to be on the correct side, on the educated side. People need to be exposed to data, facts, and to different flavours of opinions. And I think we managed to achieve this point at the festival this year with our panels, which bring artists and scientists together”, says Tjaša Ferme, founder of Science in Theatre Festival and artistic director of Transforma Theatre.

The Science in Theatre Festival took place on December 9-11, 2022 at The Tank Theater in New York.

Transforma is a New York-based not-for-profit 501 (c)(3) organization tackling how scientific ideas and metaphysical knowledge about consciousness overlap by exploring it in the arena of interactive theatre. Transforma’s goal is to pioneer a new form of theatrical expression and develop a close community of artists and scientists instilled with the freedom of thinking and creating in alternative ways.