Science Play Festival

Festival Name: Science Play Festival

Link to site:

Host: Christopher Newport University (CNU)

Festival Type: Science Play Reading Festival

Festival Dates: End of January

Overview of Festival: The annual Science Play Festival at Christopher Newport University is a two-day event that celebrates science plays. Including keynote speakers, presentations, staged readings, and talkbacks, the festival showcases interdisciplinary works that can be enjoyed by both students and scholars. Collaborations with the Coil Project in Washington, DC, and other outside theater companies create a festival that everyone can enjoy. 

Sponsors and Partners: Christopher Newport University’s Trible Library

Festival Team: 

Denise Gillman – Artistic Director of the Science Play Festival, Professor of Directing and Dramatic Literature, Acting and Interdisciplinary course with Theater and Science

Mary Sellen – Producer and University Librarian

Anna Galanides – Associate Artistic Director

Shannon Farrow McNeely – Director and Actor

Danielle Hartman – Director 

Stacy Kruml – Director and Actor

First Festival Date: January 31st, 2019

Festival History: Since CNU’s first Science Play Reading Festival premiere in January of 2019, the annual Science Play Festival has become a staple at the university. Bringing in students from all departments, faculty and staff, professors, and even outside theaters. The festival succeeds in exposing students, who might not be inclined to see a theatrical performance, to theatre and show how it can involve many disciplines.

2020 Season

Play Performed: Two Degrees

Playwright: Tira Palmquist

Genres: Drama

Synopsis: Emma Phelps is a paleoclimatologist, focusing on ice in Greenland. In drilling and studying ice core samples, she sees first hand the symptoms of our changing planet, which makes the need to act all the more crucial and urgent. In addition to her growing sense of urgency for the planet, Emma, as a recent widow, experiences grief that compounds itself with each passing month. Now she’s been asked to come to Washington D.C. to testify in a Senate Committee regarding climate change legislation, and in this intersection of science and politics, of politics and the personal, she finds more than just a little is breaking up under the strain of change.
(Synopsis provided by New Play Exchange)

Discipline: Environmental

Funders: Co-Production with The Coil Project

Play Performed: Dr. Frankenstein 

Playwright: Selma Dimitrijevic

Genres: Drama

Synopsis: Victoria Frankenstein is a brilliant, visionary young woman. It’s an age of enlightenment, a time when old orders begin to crumble and everything seems possible. Provided of course, that you are an English-man. Women are not allowed to study medicine in England, so Victoria travels to Bavaria to fulfill her destiny and become Dr. Frankenstein. Victoria’s experiments lead her to very brink of human knowledge, the secret of life itself.

(Synopsis provided by Oberon Books)

Discipline: Chemistry

Funders: Trible Library and TheaterCNU

Play Performed:The Effect

Playwright: Lucy Prebble

Genres: Drama

Synopsis: Hearts racing. Minds reeling. Knees buckling. Connie and Tristan have palpable chemistry—or is it a side effect of a new antidepressant? They are volunteers in a clinical trial, but their sudden and illicit romance forces the supervising doctors to face off over the ethical consequences of their work. The Effect takes on our pill-popping culture with humor and scintillating drama.

(Synopsis provided by the Dramatist’s Play Service)

Discipline: Neuroscience 

Funders: Trible Library and TheaterCNU

Previous Seasons Shows:

2019 :
Children by Lucy Kirkwood

Isaac’s Eye by Lucas Hnath

The How and the Why by Sara Treem


Entered by: Anna Galanides

Photo/Visual Research with citations:
Photos provided by CNU’s Science Play Festival’s marketing material

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