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Science and Art Combust on Stage With Spectacular Results

Friday, January 27, 2017

Busting stereotypes is only one of the goals of a new programme researchers have started to unite the Arts and Science worlds.  Do people who love Science have to hate Drama?  Are there really two categories of people? These are the fundamental questions behind this one-of-a-kind workshop run by a team from the University of Toronto and Tarragon Theatre.  U of T professor Carol Ann Burke and her teaching assistant Alison McAvella are conducting research into the growing number of students who are identifying and embracing both subjects.  Their partner at the Tarragon, Anne Wessels, is also an educator and jumped at the chance to take part in such a unique programme.

Alison McAvella, Carol Ann Burke, Anne Wessels

Grade 11 Biology students participated in a two hour workshop featuring several hands-on activities that required them to question their own opinions and bias surrounding the Arts and Sciences. Next week, the students will travel to the Tarragon Theatre to see the play Sequence by Canadian scientist and playwright  Arun Lakra.  Carol Ann and her team will then return to Bayview Glen for a follow-up session with the students.  Check back for updates as the project unfolds.

Update #2: Field Trip!  40 Grade 11 Students Attend Matinee Performance of Sequence

After last week's thought-provoking workshop at Bayview Glen, students were invited to the Tarragon Theatre in downtown Toronto to watch a unique play that explores themes around Science, Art, Faith and luck. The riveting 90 minute performance was exceptionally well received with a lively Q and A following the performance. There were so many questions, the gracious actors stayed longer to field the many inquiries.

The four person play featured two story lines that centred around Math and Science while the characters debated life concepts such as religion and fate. With phase two of the project complete, the researchers will return to the school to conclude their work with the group. Students are scheduled to participate in more interactive exercises and discuss how Art and Science intersect.


Update #3: Workshop concludes at Bayview Glen as students get theatrical

After a week to digest the performance and themes from the play, Carol Ann and her team returned to the Moatfield campus to debate and discuss the student's thoughts on the performance.  As each student walked in for the afternoon workshop, they were assigned a number as a name tag. This maintained the integrity of the research project assuring each participant their opinions and thoughts would not be recorded under their name. Carol Ann said it was crucial students speak freely about their associations with Art and Science. After a lively exchange of ideas, the students broke off into groups to write and plan a playlet or mini play.  They were asked to focus their own performances on two themes: Ethics and Science and The loss of Wonder. There was a buzz of activity as the students worked through the creative elements of the project. As the session came to a close, both groups expressed their gratitude for a successful partnership and a promise to keep in touch.