Open Access (free)
Translating globalised knowledge in performance
Simon Parry

This chapter discusses three different examples of experimental socially engaged creative practice. In each case artists and community groups worked with biomedical professionals in processes of collaborative knowledge co-production. The chapter argues that these processes should be understood as performances of translation with linguistic and spatial dimensions. The three different examples engage with inherited breast cancer, khat and skin colour respectively. The creative projects all responded to dominant ways of articulating an issue by redefining the problem. They got to grips with complex social contexts marked by diverse experiences of globalisation and various forms of inequality. The formation of new biosocial alliances that crossed boundaries between professionals, patient groups, artists and other groups was central to all these projects. Such creative networks can rebalance knowledge inequalities in a process of commoning sense.

in Science in performance
Gob Squad, a funny robot and dancing scientists
Simon Parry

Over two years, the experimental Anglo-German art collective Gob Squad worked together with a neurorobotics laboratory and a major Berlin opera house, the Komische Oper. This chapter offers a detailed analysis of this process and the performance, My Square Lady, which emerged from the collaboration. It explores the entangled histories of theatre and computer science identifying political problems with tendencies for new technologies to be taken too seriously. It argues that laughing at science might be an important way of both understanding it and registering discomfort and uncertainty about scientific ideas and associated technologies. Comic theatricality offers particular choreographies for holding humans and nonhumans together with their multiple modes of existence.

in Science in performance
Open Access (free)
Simon Parry

This chapter synthesises the ideas in the book through discussing the performance of cosmopolitics. It discusses the need for creative ways of practising cosmopolitics particularly as a response to climate change. The chapter explores the ship-based artist residencies offered by the organisation Cape Farewell, focusing on creative responses to the experience by the performer Cynthia Hopkins and the choreographer Siobhan Davies. It argues that, through hybrid forms of performance, these artists find productive ways of grappling with the particular difficulties of climate change, including its scale, different forms of knowledge about it and the associated sensory conflict we might experience.

in Science in performance
Open Access (free)
Convergence, emergence and divergence
Simon Parry

This chapter introduces the book’s focus on theatre, performance and science. It sets out the context of the work in twenty-first-century knowledge economies and the politics of science under conditions of globalisation. It shows how science is subject to performance pressure like many areas of contemporary life and explains how this has been manifested in a variety of modes of science communication and public engagement with science. Science-communication practices are often seen as responses to a crisis of trust in scientific knowledge. The chapter introduces the idea that theatre and theatricality can offer both critique and repair to the process of knowledge-making. Theatrical practices of sense-making recognise science’s passions at the same time as they articulate feelings from emergent levels of sensory perception. Theatre does not produce engagement; it is a particular and peculiar mode of engagement. While theatre audiences may form a proxy for a public, a crowd, a group of consumers or a nation, they are not quite any of these collectives. Rather, theatrical events constitute collectives in mobile ways, tracing emergent associations and solidarities articulated through various modes of sensory perception.

in Science in performance
Open Access (free)
Theatre and the politics of engagement
Author: Simon Parry

This book is about science in theatre and performance. It explores how theatre and performance engage with emerging scientific themes from artificial intelligence to genetics and climate change. The book covers a wide range of performance forms from the spectacle of the Paralympics Opening Ceremony to Broadway musicals, from experimental contemporary performance and opera to educational theatre, Somali poetic drama and grime videos. It features work by pioneering companies including Gob Squad, Headlong Theatre and Theatre of Debate as well as offering fresh analysis of global blockbusters such as Wicked and Urinetown. The book offers detailed description and analysis of theatre and performance practices as well as broader commentary on the politics of theatre as public engagement with science. It documents important examples of collaborative practice with extended discussion of the Theatre of Debate process developed by Y Touring theatre company, exploration of bilingual theatre-making in East London and an account of how grime MCs and dermatologists ended up making a film together in Birmingham. The interdisciplinary approach draws on contemporary research in theatre and performance studies in combination with key ideas from science studies. It shows how theatre can offer important perspectives on what the philosopher of science Isabelle Stengers has called ‘cosmopolitics’. The book argues that theatre can flatten knowledge hierarchies and hold together different ways of knowing.

Dystopian performatives and vertigo aesthetics in popular theatre
Simon Parry

This chapter examines two Broadway musicals, Wicked and Urinetown, and two plays first staged at London’s National Theatre, Earthquakes in London and The Effect. It looks at how these examples of popular theatre register public feelings about contemporary science and technology. Their various modes of theatricality establish a relationship between performers and spectators but also articulate connections between a range of scientific discourses on climate change, population change, water management, genetics and neuroscience; apparently anti-scientific cultural forms such as myth, mysticism and magic; and aesthetic conventions from literary fiction, pop music and fashion. The chapter argues that speculative theatrical practices offer ways of engaging with uncomfortable knowledge.

in Science in performance
Theatre of Debate
Simon Parry

This chapter provides a case study of the theatre company Y Touring and their development of a dramaturgical process known as Theatre of Debate. The work of the company over more than twenty-five years touring secondary schools across the UK and beyond provides an important benchmark for collaborations between scientists, theatre-makers and educators. The chapter charts the development of the company’s extensive repertoire of plays covering major areas of biomedicine including genetics and neuroscience. It goes on to discuss how Theatre of Debate offers a distinctive approach to an education in somatic expertise opening up emerging ethical issues to contest and debate.

in Science in performance
Open Access (free)
Bonnie Clementsson

In this chapter the reader learns about the early-modern Swedish judicial system and the ecclesiastical structure. The judicial body, which was fairly uniform, consisted of three secular levels. Each level had its counterpart in the ecclesiastical structure. Readers are also introduced to incest prohibitions in a historical context with a focus on Christian rules and notions. The differences between Catholic and Protestant ideas in respect of incest prohibitions are clarified. The intense debate that was going on between theologians on a European level before, during, and after the Reformation is discussed and the outcome presented. Finally, the position of Johan Stiernhöök, a high-ranking Swedish jurist in the late 1600s, is demonstrated in order to explain the judicial discourse in Sweden at the point in time where the investigation begins.

in Incest in Sweden, 1680–1940
Open Access (free)
City DNA, public health and a new urban imaginary
Michael Keith and Andreza Aruska de Souza Santos

The availability of big data as well as life in an urban age has created expectations about the prediction and control of diseases. And yet, at the same time, cultural and gender nuances have made it necessary to reconceptualise wellbeing. In this chapter we bring together arguments presented throughout this volume about expectations and limitations when addressing health in the city. What has been demonstrated throughout this volume is that public health is a common good as much as it is an individual choice. The balance between ‘my body, my rules’ and the shared space that connects everything and everyone is one that demands constant negotiation. The trade offs and instability between the individual and communities are also a discussion of the availability of resources such as individually tailored treatments and the epidemics of city life. In this complex system of connected individuals living across different urban realities, we have contributed by concluding that medical knowledges demand a new urban imaginary: thinking experimentally about optimising public health interventions in global processes of urban transformation.

in Urban transformations and public health in the emergent city
Transnational reflections from Brazilians in London and Maré, Rio de Janeiro
Cathy McIlwaine, Miriam Krenzinger, Yara Evans and Eliana Sousa Silva

This chapter examines the ways in which violence against women and girls (VAWG) affects women’s health and wellbeing in cities. In a context whereby one in three women globally experience such violence, with arguably higher incidence in cities, it explores these processes in relation to wider debates on the gender-blindness of right to the city discourse and the importance of considering gender justice in cities from a relational perspective. The chapter draws empirically on the transnational nature of urban VAWG among Brazilian migrant women in London and those residing in the marginalised slums of one of Rio de Janeiro’s largest favelas, Complexo da Maré. It shows how VAWG is diverse across multiple spaces of the city and how it fundamentally undermines women’s wellbeing and health outcomes. However, it also illustrates that although the roots of VAWG lie in unequal gendered power relations, the challenges of living in cities can both exacerbate and ameliorate such violence.

in Urban transformations and public health in the emergent city