Types of Science Plays

Four Types of Science Plays


  1. Playwrights wish to inform their audiences about “facts,” deliver the background knowledge first, and then ask questions, but without providing answers.  These plays comment more about the here and now, with a look toward the future, the potential development of scientific research, the respective consequences for society and the world at large and the way our lives will be lived, than about the past.


  1. (a) A general audience learns what characterizes the individual scientist and the scientists as a group, guides their thinking and behavior, makes them tick, or what constitutes the underlying fascination of the scientific endeavor.  The social & cultural influence of science comes to the fore, and the plays ask us to consider our attitudes and opinions.  (b) “History of Science in Theater” plays, looks back in time on actual historical events and real scientists, asks about their role, representations, and media/mediated images.  The meta-dramatic discourse of history figures very prominently, and the plays confront the past to guide us into the future.


  1. “Science to Play With” is a category which encloses Arcadia, a play where the Science is used for-very intelligent and sophisticated metaphorical and symbolical levels of meaning with a plot where scientific themes are part of a larger metaphysical spiel.


  1. Science as Fig Leaf:  science or the name of a scientist in the title and/or plot, but the dramatic action is not focused on either and there is no symbolical or substantial metaphorical usage of science to be detected.

The above categorization came from Eva-Sabine Zehelein monograph, Science:  Dramatic Science Plays in America and Great Britian 1990-2007