Science on Stage
Science on Stage is organized through the Catalyst Collaborative at MIT, produced in collaboration with the Central Square Theater.
Performance, conversation with guest scientist
Seating is Limited. Advance purchase is recommended.
PURE recounts the life and work of 20th century British mathematician Alan Turing, credited with creating the world's first computer. At a time when the basic principles of science are under threat in the US and beyond, PURE gives us a fresh window into the life of an oft-depicted (and pathologized) gay hero, focusing on Turing's broad philosophical questions about mathematics poetically interwoven with imagined conversations with those he loved.
Written by celebrated Filipino-American playwright Rey Pamatmat.
Brenna Thorton on Stage Directions
Dr Marzyeh Ghassemi, Assistant Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Institute for Medical Engineering & Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Dr Gage Martin, National Science Foundation Mathematical Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Benjamin Peirce Fellow at Harvard University.
This program is presented as part of the 2023 Cambridge Science Festival. Admission is free.
Seating is limited and pre-registration is strongly encouraged. Please note that all seats will be released to the general public 10 minutes prior to the program’s start time. To guarantee a seat, please arrive early.
Young Nerds of Color
Hiding in plain sight in the science labs, grappling over civilization’s greatest challenges are Young Nerds of Color. Some speak with the poetry of wise sages, others subvert the establishment with renegade ways, and, finally, there are rock stars whose ideas flow like jazz improvisation – all changing the world like a bolt of lightning illuminating the night sky. If knowledge is power, their powers make them superheroes.
Playwright Melinda Lopez weaves together over 60 interviews with scientists from the most underrepresented backgrounds – with original music by Nona Hendryx – amplifying the rich harmonies, breaking down boundaries and showing us what is possible.
Arranged by playwright Melinda Lopez. Directed by Des Bennett.
Moderator: Kortney Adams
Guest Speaker: Chris Boston
Guest Speaker: Matthew Luther
Guest Speaker: Omar Rutledge
Guest Speaker: Diana Gikunju
Director: Des Bennett
Cast: Karina Beleno Carney
Cast: Ricardo Engermann
Cast: Jaime Hernandez
Cast: Lorraine Victoria Kanyike
Cast: Victoria Omoregie
Cast: Alison Yueming Qu
When his estranged, alcoholic father is diagnosed with liver cancer, computer scientist Jorge dreams up a nursing app to manage the disease in his stead. As the machine's capabilities grow, however, the possibility of leaving it in charge of the treatment becomes more real, forcing Jorge to reckon with his responsibilities as a son—and as a creator.
Written by Francisco Mendoza. Directed by Gabriel Vega Weissman.
Note: Attendees may want to read Professor Ogbunu’s interview with Lupe Fiasco about the fusion between academia and hip-hop before attending this event.
Moderator: Debra Wise
Guest speaker: Lupe Fiasco
Guest scientist: C. Brandon Ogbunu
Guest Scientist: Peter Szolovits
Playwright: Francisco Mendoza
Director: Gabriel Vega Weissman
Emma Phelps is a paleoclimatologist, focusing on ice in Greenland. In drilling and studying ice core samples, she sees first-hand the symptoms of our changing planet, which makes the need to act all the more crucial and urgent. In addition to her growing sense of urgency for the planet, Emma, as a recent widow, experiences grief that compounds itself with each passing month. Now she's been asked to come to Washington D.C. to testify in a Senate Committee regarding climate change legislation, and in this intersection of science and politics, of politics and the personal, she finds more than just a little is breaking up under the strain of change.
From the playwright, Tira Palmquist: “As my play took shape, I realized that my question was, how do we move from inaction to action? How do we change from doubt to conviction? Finding the arguments, the language to convince deniers has to happen – but in order to do that we have to figure out how we fix us.”
This Science on Stage program will be Directed by Paige Clark. A discussion will follow immediately following the reading with guest scientist Susan Solomon of MIT’s Program in Atmospheric, Oceans, and Climate and Debra Wise of the Catalyst Collaborative @ MIT.
Unemployed, and estranged from his wife and son, Frank accepts a job offer from a contractor to moderate content for one of the world’s largest social media companies. This work takes a toll on Frank until he realizes he might have the power to save someone and himself in the process.
Playwright, Ken Urban who teaches playwriting at MIT says, “My new play about the world of internet content moderators is a work of fiction. But I spent months interviewing researchers and speaking to content moderators, and their words had a big impact as I wrote this play. I often challenge myself to write about people and places far removed from my own experience, and research helps me get inside the minds of my characters and to do justice to their stories.”
Guest scientist, Crystal Lee, MIT SERC and Comparative Media Studies adds, "My work investigates what I call the "the life-cycle of data representations," or the process by which datasets are curated, cleaned, visualized, circulated, and manipulated."
A Commission from EST/Alfred P. Sloan Science & Technology Project and in development with The Civilians R&D Group.