Science Festival Theatre

Apr 3 2017 | By More

Theatre puts Science in the Spotlight.

With more performance than in any year since it was set up in 1989, the 2017 Edinburgh International Science Festival, running from 1 to 16 April, has the makings of a feast of theatre for adults and children alike.

The strength of the Science Festival has always been its ability to provide something for all ages and levels of expertise. It has mixed simple, fun but educational events for kids with talks by scientists who are at the cutting edge of their field.

Brian Ferguson in A Number. Photo: Aly Wight

So too, does this year’s culture programme. It finds the ability to examine big moral dilemmas, in the likes of Carol Churchill’s A Number at the Lyceum and Steff Smith’s Girl in the Machine at the Traverse, but still has room for such simple delights as John Hinton’s Ensonglopedia of Science, with a song about science for every letter of the alphabet.

As with so much of Scottish theatre created for children, productions ostensibly for a younger audience are well worth flagging up for adults. Returning Science Festival commissions at the Studio at Festival Theatre – both nominated in last year’s CATS –  Rob Drummond’s Uncanny Valley and Catherine Wheels’ Lost at Sea definitely fall into that category.

As does new production Dr Stirlingshire’s Discovery by Grid Iron and Lung Ha Theatre Company. An immersive piece, it takes its audience on a journey through Edinburgh Zoo to find out which possibly mythical animal cryptozoologist Dr Vivien Stirlingshire has discovered.

Big Data

In the programme aimed at over 14s, all the tickets are hot. But particularly notable are a new commissions: Francis Gallop’s Cosmonaut at Summerhall, featuring three interlocking stories from the early space race, and at the Bedlam, Issac’s Eye by Lucas Hnath, a contemporary look into the life of a young Isaac Newton.

Jenna Watt, always a fantastic performer to watch, returns wth her Fringe First winning production Faslane, which looks at the questions which need asking about the Trident Submarine site. While The Big Data Show is something we will certainly see more of in the future: a work-in-progress interactive, digital performance which explores digital citizenship through your own mobile phone.

Full details of the Science Festival are available on its website. But here, for ease of theatrical pleasure, is a listing of all the theatre and associated productions.


Main Science Festival Website:

Cosmonaut (Ages 14+)
Summerhall, 1 Summerhall Square, EH9 1PL
Monday 3 April – Wednesday 5 April
Evenings: 8pm (75 mins)
Francis Gallop
Three interlocking stories from the early space race in a play about history, conspiracy, and myth.

Uncanny Valley (Ages 8+)
The Studio @ The Festival Theatre, 22 Potterrow, EH8 9BL
Tuesday 4 – Saturday 8 April 2017
Twice daily: 12noon & 2.30pm (70 mins)
By Rob Drummond, presented by Borderline Theatre Company.
Can Ada and her best friend OKAY (Outstandingly Knowledgeable Android Youth) exist in a world where artificial intelligence is distrusted? Æ Review: ★★★★☆ Shiny new.

Dr Stirlingshire’s Discovery (Ages 5+)
Edinburgh Zoo, 134 Corstorphine Road, EH12 6TS
Saturday 1/Sunday 2 (previews); Run: Tuesday 4 – Sunday 9 April 2017
Evenings: 6.30pm. (90 mins)
Grid Iron and Lung Ha Theatre Company.
Cryptozoologist Dr Vivien Stirlingshire discovers the kind of animals they say a don’t exist. She unveils her latest find in this promenade show.

Girl In The Machine (Ages 14+)
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED
Monday 3/Tuesday 4 (previews), Wednesday 5 –Saturday 22 April
Evenings Tue – Sat: 7.30pm; Matinee Weds 12, Sat 15, Sat 22: 2.30pm.
Traverse Theatre Company. Written by Stef Smith, directed by Orla O’Loughlin.
Wildly in love, Polly and Owen feel ready to take on the world. But a mysterious new technology in everyone’s phones, turns their world upside down.

Ensonglopedia Of Science (Ages7+)
Summerhall, Dissection Room, 1 Summerhall Square, EH9 1PL
Thursday 6 April,
Twice: 11am & 2pm, (60 mins)
John Hinton
A song about science for every letter of the alphabet. Expect atoms, big bangs and cells. Expect X-rays, Y-chromosomes and plenty of zoology. Expect the unexpected. And expect it to rhyme.

Issac’s Eye (Ages 14+)
Bedlam Theatre, 11b Bristo Place, EH1 1EZ
Thursday 6 (preview); Friday 7 – Saturday 15 April
Evenings (not Mon): 7.30pm (120 mins)
Bedlam Theatre and the Edinburgh University Theatre Company.
Playwright Lucas Hnath blends history and fantasy to reimagine the contentious, plague-ravaged world of Isaac Newton.

A Number (Ages 14+)
Thursday 6 (preview); Friday 7 – Saturday 15 April.
Evenings (Not Sun/Mon) : 8.30pm (60 mins).
Royal Lyceum Theatre Company.
Caryl Churchill’s powerfully dynamic play about the boundaries and ethics of science, directed by Zinnie Harris. Bernard believes he’s an only child – until he learns he’s one of ‘a number’ of clones from a genetic experiment.

A Stone’s Throw (Ages 5+)
Summerhall, Dissection Room, 1 Summerhall Square, EH9 1PL
Saturday 8/Sunday 9 April
Twice daily: 11am & 2pm (50 mins)
Giddy Aunt
A girl knocks the sun out of the sky. As the world starts to fall apart, she embarks on a special mission to restore it back to its place in the sky.

Faslane (Ages 14+)
Summerhall, Red Lecture Theatre, 1 Summerhall Square, EH9 1PL
Monday 10/Tuesday 11 April
Evenings: 8pm (90 mins)
Jenna Watt and Showroom
Faslane, 40 miles outside Glasgow, is home to the UK’s nuclear missile programme. Drawing on interviews with individuals at the front line, Jenna Watt seeks answers to the questions we should all be asking about the nuclear deterrent. Æ review: ✭✭✭✭✩  Therapeutic.

Lost At Sea (Ages 8+)
The Studio @ The Festival Theatre, 22 Potterrow, EH8 9BL
Tuesday 11 – Saturday 15 April
Twice daily: 12noon & 2.30pm (60 mins)
Catherine Wheels
A boy and a girl on opposite sides of the world are fascinated by the story of 28,800 bath toys lost in the unrelenting currents of the Pacific Ocean.

The Big Data Show (Ages 14+)
Red Lecture Theatre, Summerhall, 1 Summerhall Square, EH9 1PL
Wednesday 12 April
Twice: 1pm & 3pm (90 mins)
Free but ticketed:
Part digital magic show and part history of hacking. Work-in-progress interactive, digital performance explores digital citizenship through your own mobile phone. Aims to demystify what big data is and how we choose to give it away.

The Race For Space Live – Public Service Broadcasting (Ages 14+)
Usher Hall, Lothian Road, EH1 2EA
Wednesday 12 April
Evening: 7.30pm (180 minutes)
Public Service Broadcasting
The hit album The Race for Space with accompaniment from the National Youth Choir of Scotland and string quintet Mr McFall’s Chamber.

Parlour Sounds: When household appliances become innovative electronic instruments (Ages 14+)
Summerhall, Dissection Room, 1 Summerhall Square, EH9 1PL
Thursday 13 April
Evening: 8pm (90 mins)
Red Note Ensemble and the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris
Patricia Alessandrini uses electronics to transform and invent instruments in an imaginative exploration of women’s relationship to technology – from the advent of the home hi-fi to the smartphone.


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