HDR Seminar: Olivia McRae, University of Sydney
Monday, 11 September 4:00pm – 5:00pm
This seminar will be delivered in Chemistry Lecture Theatre 4
Speaker: Olivia McRae, University of Sydney
Host: A/Prof. Alice Motion and Dr Reyne Pullen
Title: Whose Science is it Anyway? Exploring the use of improvised theatre in science communication
Abstract: The use of theatre and performing arts to communicate science has become increasingly popular over the last 20 years, alongside concurrent shifts in science communication to more dialogic approaches. Performing arts, such as theatre, stand-up comedy, and dance, have been embraced by science communication as a way to engage broader audiences and make science more accessible to the public. However, the use of improvised theatre to communicate science (‘science improv’) has remained under-explored in the literature, despite its use in science communication practice. In my PhD, I have combined research and practice to examine science improv, and its impacts on performers and audiences alike. Through employing a mixed-methods approach in my research, I explored and analysed science improv from multiple angles, developing theory around the experiences and processes of science improv more broadly.
In this talk, I will discuss the global landscape of science improv performance and explore the strengths and challenges of using improvised theatre for science communication. I will present an analysis of audience and performer experiences from my own science improv show, ‘Lines of Best Fit’, and highlight the implications within the context of science communication.
Bio: Olivia McRae is a PhD candidate with the Science Communication, Outreach, Participation and Education (SCOPE) Group at the School of Chemistry, University of Sydney. Her research focuses on creative approaches to science communication and blends art and science to create novel and engaging experiences for audiences. She is the founder and producer of ‘Lines of Best Fit’, a science-themed improv comedy show based in Sydney, Australia. In 2022, she was awarded the Student Innovation Award for ‘Lines of Best Fit’ and has performed at National Science Week, Sydney Fringe Festival, and the Splendour in the Grass Science Tent.