New science play Isaac’s Eye sponsored by Sloan Foundation

I’m always eager to share the news when I hear about science in the arts.

Today I learned about an ongoing initiative of the Alfred P. Sloan Jr. Foundation, a $1.6 billion foundation named for a president and CEO of General Motors in the 1920s.  The Sloan Foundation gives grant money primarily in STEM areas, including a “major program area” dedicated to “public understanding of science and technology.” This includes books, film, radio, television, and theater. Beneficiaries you may be familiar with include NPR’s Science Friday, NOVA, IMAX productions, and the Sundance Film Festival.

What came to my attention today is the Sloan Foundation’s partnership with the Ensemble Studio Theater in New York (and others) to commission and produce new science and technology plays. {This is not a new endeavor, merely news to me.} The goal is to

foster a better public understanding of the increasingly scientific and technological environment in which we live.  The program also aims to convey some of the challenges and rewards of the scientific and technological enterprise and of the lives of the men and women who undertake it.

I couldn’t have said it better.

One month a year, the Ensemble Studio Theater and Sloan also put together the First Light Festival, described thus:

The annual EST/Sloan First Light Festival, a month-long festival focused on new science and technology plays, features a mainstage production and a series of staged readings, workshops, cabarets and satellite events in New York.

Makes me (almost) wish I lived in NY.

Check out these lists of STEM plays produced through the EST/Sloan partnership. Why not try to get one of them performed in your community?

Those of you in New York should buy tickets for the current EST/Sloan science play:

Isaac’s Eye by Lucas Hnath
Directed by Linsay Firman
January 30 – February 24, 2013

“One experiment young Isaac Newton tried boggles the mind. To understand light and optics better, Newton inserted a long needle “between my eye and the bone, as near to the backside of my eye as I could.” Why take such a risk? Lucas Hnath’s brilliant new play, Isaac’s Eye, reimagines the contentious, plague-ravaged world Newton inhabited as it explores the dreams and longings that drove the rural farm boy to become one of the greatest thinkers in modern science.”

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