First Light Festival

Festival Name: First Light

Link to site: https://www.ensemblestudiotheatre.org/firstlight/

Host: Ensemble Studio Theatre (EST)

Festival Type: Science Play Festival

Festival Dates: Varies by year

Overview of Festival: The Ensemble Studio Theatre has partnered with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science & Technology Project to create a platform for new science-themed plays. Starting in 1998, the First Light festival has presented readings, workshops, and full productions of new works. Named after an astronomy term, First Light refers to the first light you see through a telescope when you look into the universe.   

Sponsors and Partners: Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science & Technology Project

Festival Team:

Graeme Grillis – Associate Artistic Director of EST, Program Director of EST/Sloan

Linsay Firman – Director of Play Development of EST, Associate Director of EST/Sloan

First Festival Date: 1998

Festival History: In 1998 EST began its ongoing relationship with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation the EST/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Project, for the commissioning, development and production of new science-themed plays, which has become a pillar of the organization’s work and progress, distributing over $1 million in new play commissions and production grants to playwrights and theatres across the USA.

(Festival History provided by the Ensemble Studio Theatre website)

2020 Season

Play Performed: Hello, World

Playwright: Margot Connolly

Genres: Drama

Synopsis: In a coding competition, two teams of teenage girls need to create an app that changes the world for the better – but who decides which app and cause is most worthy?

(Synopsis provided by Ensemble Studio Theatre’s website)

Discipline: Computer Science

Funders: EST/Sloan Project

Play Performed: One Small Step for Brunch, One Giant Leap for Brunchkind

Playwright: Jake Brasch, AJ Clauss, Yilong Liu, Andrew Massey, and Meagan Chan Meinero

Synopsis: A collection of short plays that the audience can enjoy over brunch. 

Discipline (s): Technology

Funders: EST/Youngblood

Play Performed: With Fellowship

Playwright: Amanda Keating

Genres: Drama

Synopsis: Bouncing from a present-day German lab where a team of women scientists study the fossilized dental plaque of medieval monastics to a German scriptorium in the 11th century, with fellowship is a play about loneliness and loss, asking how history defines science, art, and faith.

(Synopsis provided by Ensemble Studio Theatre’s website)

Discipline: Archeology

Funders: EST/Sloan Project

Play Performed: Miss Mitchell

Playwright: Kristin Slaney & The Lobbyists

Genres: Drama

Synopsis: Miss Mitchell is a musical about Maria Mitchell, the first female professional astronomer in America, and an influential figure in women’s education on the island of Nantucket. 

(Synopsis provided by Ensemble Studio Theatre’s website)

Discipline: Astronomy

Funders:EST/Sloan Project

Play Performed: Have You Met Jane Goodall & Her Mother?

Playwright: Mechael Walek

Genres: Drama

Synopsis: The Tanzanian government allowed Jane Goodall to study chimpanzees in the wild under one condition – she must bring a chaperone.  So, Jane invited her mother.

(Synopsis provided by Ensemble Studio Theatre’s website)

Discipline: Anthropology

Funders: EST/Sloan Project, EST/Youngblood

Play Performed: The Letters of Galileo’s Daughter

Playwright: Jessica Dickey

Genres: Drama

Synopsis: A playwright searches for the surviving letters between Galileo and his eldest daughter.  Expanding across time, this story is an exploration of faith, forgiveness, and the cost of heeding one’s truth

(Synopsis provided by Ensemble Studio Theatre’s website)

Discipline: Astronomy

Funders: EST/Sloan Project

Play Performed: Freeplay

Playwright: Justice Hehir, with dramaturg Emilie Pass

Genres: Drama

Synopsis: FreePlay is a feminist sex toy company, popular for its deconstructed take on the dildo.  A story about engineering, female friendships, dildos, and the people who make them.  

(Synopsis provided by Ensemble Studio Theatre’s website)

Discipline: Technology 

Funders: EST/Sloan Project

Play Performed: Smart

Playwright: Mary Elizabeth Hamilton

Genres: Drama

Synopsis: Smart explores how much our identity is shaped by habits, and what happens when our possessions start responding to the information of our daily lives.  

(Synopsis provided by Ensemble Studio Theatre’s website)

Discipline: Sociology  

Funders: EST/Sloan Project

Play Performed: What You Are Now

Playwright: Same Chanse, developed with The Civilians

Genres: Drama

Synopsis: The daughter of a trauma survivor, Pia is driven by the desire to help free her mother from paralyzing fear memories – that’s why she became a neuroscientist. But the unexpected return of an old acquaintance triggers a storm of memory, forcing Pia to tangle with her own fears and paralysis, and pushing her to question deeply-held beliefs about her own past. How can changing our memories about who we were then change who we are now?

(Synopsis provided by Ensemble Studio Theatre’s website)

Discipline: Neuroscience

Funders: EST/Sloan Project

Play Performed: Offshore Clinical Trials

Playwright: Mona Pirnot

Genres: Drama

Synopsis: At a beach house in the Caribbean, subjects come and go to take part in a trial testing the therapeutic value of one doctor’s homemade herpes vaccine. 

(Synopsis provided by Ensemble Studio Theatre’s website)

Discipline: Medicine

Funders: EST/Sloan Project, EST/Youngblood 

Previous Seasons Shows:

2018/2019 Season:

Sizzle Sizzle Fly by Susan Bernfield

Golden Shield by Anchuli Felicia King

World Avoided byAndrea Lepcio

The Biology of the Surface by Dominic Taylor

Another Revolution by Jacqueline Bircher Amid

Ghosts by Chad Beckim 

Have you met Jane Goodall & Her Mother by Machael Walk

The Space Race by Marc Acito

What Looks Like Pretty by Elizabeth Gregory Wilder

2017/2018 Season:

Spill by Leigh Fondakowski

The Youngblood Science Brunch

Midwife/Mechanic by Chiara Atik

Sizzle Sizzle Fly, by Susan Bernfield

The Radio Boys, by Joe Gilford

World Avoided by Andrea Lepcio

Damage Ctrl by Ryan Fogarty

Motion Picture Color Fade by Patrick Link

Herschel: Portrait of a Killer by Dustin H. Chinn

The Flamingos by Ryan Dowler

Coming Up for Air byCassandra Medley

Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One’s Reason and Seeking the Truth in

Sciences by Jerry Lieblich

What You Are Now by Sam Chanse

2016/2017 Season:

Sizzle Sizzle Fly by Susan Bernfield

The Radio Boys by Joe Gilford

World Avoided by Andrea Lepcio

Damage Ctrl by Ryan Fogarty

Motion Picture Color Fade by Patrick Link

Herschel: Portrait of a Killer by Dustin H. China

The Flamingos by Ryan Dowler

Coming up for Air by Cassandra Medley

Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One’s Reason and Seeking the Truth in Sciences by Jerry Lieblich

What You Are Now by Sam Chanse

Midwife/Mechanic by Chiara Atik

The Youngblood Science Brunch

2015/2016 Season:

Tectonic Mélange by Deborah Yarchun

Things That Cannot Take Care of Themselves by Sinead Daly

Maria Sibylla by Arlene Hutton

The Devil’s Salt by France-Luce Benson 

Falling Down the Stairs by Tala Manassah and Mona Mansour

Pugwash by Vern Thiessen

Truth Values by Gioia De Cari

Youngblood Science Brunch

2014/2015 Season:

Youngblood Science Brunch

Spill by Leigh Fondakowski

The Firebirds Take the Field by Lynn Rosen

Franklinland by Lloyd Suh

Boy by Anna Ziegler

The Nature of Things by Michael Barakiva

Paradise by Laura Maria Censabella

The Elementary Space Time Show: A Musical by César Alvarez

The Mermaid Hour by David Valdes Greenwood

Where Ever It May Be: A Musical by Matt Schatz

Ruth by Alexander Borinsky

Chatterbots by Olivia Dufault

2013/2014 Season:

Fast Company by Carlia Ching

Please Continue by Frank Basloe

The Gum Play by Lucas Kavner

Life on Paper by Kenneth Lin

Binary (Or the Information Age) by J. Holtham

Spill by Leigh Fondakowski

Father Unknown by Daniel Reitz

Youngblood Science Brunch: An Object at Brunch Tends to Stay at Brunch

Silver by Emily Chadwick Weiss

Old Four Legs by Clare Barron

Wonks (A Travesty) by Wilile Orbison

Struck by Tennis Kowalchuk, Brett Keyser, and Allison Waters

Lucy by Nick Lehane and Alex Suha

2012/2013 Season:

Informed Consent by Deborah Zoe Laufer

Life on Paper by Kenneth Lin

Danny’s Brain by Joe Gilford

Dark Matter by August Schulenburg

The Article in Question by Tom Rowan

The Drive by Anna Moench and Rob Rusli

The Devil’s Salt by France-Luce Benson

Pluto by Bridgette Wimberly

The Hundred Year Flood by Meghan Deans

Father Unknown by Daniel Reitz

The Death of the Slow’Dying Scuba Diver by Matthew Paul Olmos

Soldier of the Mind by Justin Fleming

First Light Readings

Isaac’s Eye by Lucas Hnath

2011/2012 Season:

Headstrong by Patrick Link

The Bone Wars by Jeff Bienstock, Patrick Link, and Eric March

Warmth by Bekah Brunstetter

Icarus Falling by Holli Harms

Soldier of the Mind by Justin Fleming

Before you Ruin It by Laura Jacqumin

Out of Orbit by Jennifer Maisel

Kasimov by Beau Willimon

Some Brighter Distance by Keith Reddin

Fast Company by Carlia Ching

The Unusual Love Life of Bed Bugs and Other Creatures by Cori Thomas

2010/2011 Season:

Pidgeon by Tommy Smith

Please Continue by Frank Basloe

Fast Company by Carla Ching

Smash by Robert Atkins

The Secret Life of Arthropods and Rodents by Cori Thomas

Ada by Kim Sherman and Margaret Vanderburg

Big Hungry World by Susan Bernfield 

The Separation of Blood by Bridgette Wimberly

Flatland by Jon Levin

A Lady Alone by Lynn Eckert, Christine Farrell, and Kevin Confoy

Photograph 51 by Anna Ziegler

2009/2010 Season:

Beautiful Night by Tommy Smith

Cecilia and the Universe by Adrienne Campbell-Holt and Emily Conbere

Gustie Returns by Jane Chotard Wheeler

Isaac’s Eye by Lucas Hnath

Great Eastern by Anna Moench

The Telephone Caveat by Adam Gwon and Justin Wener

Notes Toward the Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs by Mike Daisy

Dark Energy Stuns Universe by Leah Maddrie

Progress in Flying by Lynn Rosen

Youngblood’s Mystery Science Brunch

Lenin’s Embalmers by Vern Thiessen

2008/2009 Season:

End Days by Deborah Zoe Laufer

2007/2008 Seasons:

Lucy by Damien Atkins

2006/2007 Seasons:

Serendib by David Zellnick

2005/2006 Season:

Relativity by Cassandra Medley

2004/2005 Season:

Luminescence Dating by Carey Perloff

2003/2004 Season:

Days of Happiness by Arthur Giron

The Monkey Room by Kevin Fisher

L’Ornitotero: The Bird Machine by Carlo Adinolfi and Renee Phillipi

Paradise of Earthworms by David Valdes Greenwood

Scientific Shorts Commissioned by the Guthrie Theatre

Blackfootnotes by Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj

Girl Science by Larry Loebell

The Bones of Giants by Cheryl L. Davis

Twin Primes by Alex Lewin

Progress in Flying by Lynn Rosen 

Gutenberg! The Musical! By Scott Brown and Anthony King

2002/2003 Season:

First Light 2003

2001/2002 Season:

The Secret Order by Robert Clyman

Relativity by Cassandra Medley

First in Flight by David Zellnik and Joesph Zellnik

String Fever by Jacquelyn Reingodl

Tooth & Claw by Michael Hollinger

Thread of Life by Rita Nachtman

Popular Science: One-Act Comedies Partition by Ira Hauptman

People Be Heard by Quincy Long

47 Monkeys by Kevin Fisher

Invasion of the Colored People by Ellen Lewis 

Zero G by Peter Buchman

Fzzn Girl by Mojie Crigler

The Ballad of Pineas P. Gage by Crystal Skillman

2000/2001 Season:

First Light 2001

1999/2000 Season:

First Light 200

1998/1999 Season:

Tesla’s Letters by Jeffery Stanley

Youngblood’s Eureka! Staged Readings

1997/1998 Season:

First Light 1998

Links:

https://www.ensemblestudiotheatre.org/est-sloan

https://www.ensemblestudiotheatre.org/20182019

https://www.ensemblestudiotheatre.org/history

https://www.ensemblestudiotheatre.org/firstlight

https://www.ensemblestudiotheatre.org/est-blog-1/2020/3/4/margot-connolly-on-girls-who-code-apps-that-can-change-the-planet-and-hello-world

https://www.ensemblestudiotheatre.org/est-blog-1/2019/2/4/michael-walek-on-research-surprises-mythologizing-camping-and-have-you-met-jane-goodall-amp-her-mother

https://www.ensemblestudiotheatre.org/20192020/galileos-daughter

https://www.ensemblestudiotheatre.org/est-blog-1/tag/FREEPLAY

https://www.ensemblestudiotheatre.org/est-blog-1

http://www.scienceandfilm.org/articles/3045/science-plays-featured-at-the-ensemble-studio-theatre

https://www.ensemblestudiotheatre.org/2015/2016/2016/1/22/ruth

https://www.ensemblestudiotheatre.org/firstlight

Entered by: Anna Galanides

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *