Theater festival invites DOE scientists to consult on COVID-19 themes for new program

Theater festival invites DOE scientists to consult on COVID-19 themes for new program

January 3, 2021

The Livermore Shakespeare Festival has invited scientists from Lawrence Livermore and Sandia national laboratories to consult on plans for a yearlong science-based program, including a new play to educate the public about the COVID-19 crisis, how science is helping develop a vaccine, and about climate change.

The upcoming program, "Science at Play," is intended to bring the scientific process to life through literature and performance. It begins with live-streamed productions of known science-related plays, including David Auburn's "Proof" and Michael Frayne's "Copenhagen."

The festival has also commissioned playwright Diana Burbano to write the new play. Burbano will partner with scientists at LLNL and Sandia who are engaged in using science and data to develop a vaccine. Burbano, a Colombian immigrant, is an Equity actor and a teaching artist at South Coast Repertory and Breath of Fire Latina Theatre Ensemble in Orange County. Her long list of writing credits includes "Policarpa," written for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

The festival's science advisors will be Lawrence Lagin, who is currently a member of the Board of Directors of Livermore Shakes, and Alicia Calonico Soto who is a Director and Founder of the Hispanic Heritage Center. Lagin retired in 2014 as LLNL's National Ignition Facility Deputy Project Manager after a 40-year career as a scientist, engineer, science outreach program founder and science project manager. Calonico Soto is currently employed as a LLNL engineer.

Scientists also will advise the playwright and present science-related talks and demonstrations for the public. Tony Baylis, Livermore National Laboratory’s Director for the Office of Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Programs and Joanna Albala, Science Education Program Manager, have volunteered to assist with connecting scientists and artists for the project.

"With the uncertainty of live gatherings still looming, this is a moment for arts organizations to enlighten their audiences and contribute to a global narrative by showcasing the minds and spirits of the folks in the middle of today's scientific breakthroughs," said Lisa A. Tromovitch, founding artistic director of Livermore Shakespeare Festival. "Art illuminates."

Livermore Shakespeare Festival's resident director Michael Wayne Rice is leading the project, assisted by Tromovitch.

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