On Tuesday 1st March we went to the Reach-Out Lab at Imperial College for the launch of Little Miracles, a play by award winning playwright Joy Wilkinson. The play explores the scientific, social and ethical implications of embryonic stem cell research and has been developed in collaboration with Islington Community Theatre.
The ideas in the play evolved from the Embryonic workshops with Islington students aged 11-21 and professional playwrights. The script has been developed in consultation with stem cell researchers, theatre-makers, young people and Islington Young Carers.
Little Miracles is the second play we’ve worked on with Islington Community Theatre.. Our first play, Hive 9, by Ali Taylor, toured London and the UK in 2009/10. Both plays are targeted at young people and aim to make science relevant by linking it to wider social issues.
We invited a group of students from Highbury Fields School for Girls to attend the launch. As part of their trip Professor Sara Rankin kindly provided a tour of the Sir Alexander Fleming Building where the girls got to see the day-to-day working environment of PhD students and post-docs and meet the people working in Sara’s lab.
The play was introduced by Lord Robert Winston, Professor of Science & Society at Imperial College, who spoke about the excellent work currently being undertaken in the Reach-Out Lab. Little Miracles was the first play to be performed in the space.
Directed by Natalie Ibu and with a set designed by Charlie Damigos, the play has been created in order to be performed in science labs. The play centres on the relationship between Ayesha (Elena Pavil) and her mother Dina (Caroline Lena Olsson). Dina, who used IVF in order to have Ayesha grows ill with dementia. Determined to find a cure for her mum’s illness, Ayesha dedicates her life to embryonic stem cell research, experimenting on cells just like the one she grew up from. The social and ethical questions posed by stem cell research create the tension within the piece – could the embryos have been her brothers and sisters or are they just bunches of cells?
The thought-provoking piece kept the audience debating long after the play had finished. The show will tour schools and science labs in Islington and UK-wide from Wednesday.
If you would like to explore some of the issues raised further then you can visit our SciberBrain website (www.sciberbrain.org).
Further information is available from the Biochemical Society website.
Photos of the day to follow.