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Biotech Performance Festival

Albany, NY – The unique intersection of the worlds of art and science – including the impact of ever-evolving technologies on the emerging definition of humanity – will take center stage during the first-ever Biotech Performance Festival presented jointly by the University at Albany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (“CNSE”) and UAlbany’s Department of Theatre.

The performances, to be held October 30 through November 7 at UAlbany’s Performing Arts Center, will transform the theatrical stage into a laboratory and the role of a playwright into that of a researcher, courtesy of a 90-minute evening of plays that explore how technology is redrawing what constitutes the living and the mechanical, the generated and the engineered, the synthetic and the natural.

The theatrical stage offers a unique opportunity to raise a community’s awareness and understanding of the issues that surround the cutting-edge research that defines the 21st century technological revolution. Five plays to be offered at each performance provide an outlet for a theatrical response to a world in which our perceptions of nature and culture have been greatly affected by new technologies – and provide a platform to investigate the technological revolution in our classrooms and communities.

Featured playwrights at the festival include Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Kennedy, executive director of the New York State Writers Institute at UAlbany, and Jackie Roberts, assistant professor of theatre at UAlbany and curator of the Biotech Performance Festival.

University at Albany President George M. Philip said, “This cross-campus, interdisciplinary collaboration combines the groundbreaking education and research of the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering with the distinctive artistic expression of the Department of Theatre.  I applaud this exciting partnership and look forward to a performance that will be equal parts enlightening, educational and entertaining.”

CNSE Senior Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Alain E. Kaloyeros said, “The UAlbany NanoCollege is delighted to partner with the Department of Theatre to present the first-ever Biotech Performance Festival, which offers an exciting opportunity to explore the educational, cultural and societal impacts of the scientific revolution being driven by nanotechnology. As the 21st century is increasingly shaped by the emergence of new and transformative technologies, this pioneering effort will promote further understanding of the growing connection between modern-day innovation and our humanity.”

Roberts said, “We are thrilled to present the Biotech Performance Festival in partnership with the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, which truly exemplifies the exciting world of modern-day scientific discovery and exploration. The collision of science with the performing arts gives us a chance to raise issues, promote dialogue and offer a bold perspective on our world as it is shaped by the emergence of new technologies. It should prove to be a unique and wonderful experience.”

Kennedy said, “The technology that is abroad in the land these days, and which is shaping a new reality for everybody, is indeed a wonder to many.  But it is also a grand mystification for just as many.  The Biotech Performance Festival opens up windows on how a few of these disparities might collide, how some people cope with them (or don’t) and what we might learn from the collision.”

In his play In the System, Kennedy tells the story of two small-time gamblers who embrace technology to make a killing at the racetrack. Roberts’ A Tale for Children is a modern-day mermaid story with a genetic twist. Other featured plays include It’s a Small, Small World by Alice Kauffman, in which a 15-year-old boy teaches his mother about nanotechnology; Stained Glass by Lindsay Price, which recounts the first human trial of a breakthrough cancer treatment; and the apocalyptic tale spawned by a mad scientist in The Second Coming by Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro.

Performances are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, October 30 and 31 at 8 pm; Sunday, November 1 at 2 pm; Wednesday-Friday, November 4-6 at 8 pm; and Saturday, November 7 at 2 pm. For more information, please visit http://www.albany.edu/theatre/biotechfestival.html.

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Author:

Beth Kelley is a writer and researcher with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.