Crystallography on Stage: Presenting the Concepts and History Dramatically

The meeting of the International Year of Crystallography in Montreal (IUCr2014 23rd Congress), Aug. 5-12, 2014
 was an excellent opportunity to meet with friends and fellow crystallographers from all over the world. 
It was also an unique opportunity to be exposed to the latest developments of crystallography and 28782D_02
crystal science in the broadest sense of the world. There were over on hundred microsymposia, 
plenary lectures and other technical sessions, plus exhibits and workshops. 
I was invited to give one presentation in a micro-symposium entitled 
'Spreading the Word. Introducing Crystallography to the Public' (MS68).
 I took this opportunity to present the work on the play 'Picasso Meets Crystallography'
 and also on its most dramatic adaptation 'Bernals' Picasso', in collaboration with 
my colleagues Jill Campbell and Greg Gerhard.
Here is a copy of the abstract of the presentation. 
You can read more details on this webpage, on the 'Science Communication' (Drama) tab.

From Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faust (1604) to Oxygen (2000) by Carl Djerassi and Roald Hoffmann, there is a long tradition of

dramatic work related to scien ce and scientist. More recently, the enormously successful Copenhagen (1998) by Michael Frayn’s and

a wave of new plays about scientific themes such as Arcadia, Wit, After Darwin and others have created new dramatic phenomenon.

These works are not the conventional documentary-dramas about scientific discovery but engaging plays. A recent book entitled

Science on Stage (1) reviews more than a hundred plays presenting scientific themes on stage.

Beginning in 2005, a play was developed with the objective of conveying the concepts and history of crystallography to large audiences in

a dramatic setting. The script centers on the mural drawn by Picasso in 1950 at the flat of the iconic crystallographer J.D. Bernal, during

his historical meeting with the world-famous artist. The main characters discuss the concepts of crystallography and explore t

he interconnections between Science and Art. The script has had several readings in academic settings (University of Illinois at Chicago, 2007;

Barcelona, Zaragoza, Spain, 2008). The première staged reading of the play was produced at Argonne National Laboratory on May 4th2008.

Details can be found at The project has developed from an initial script entitled

‘Picasso Meets Crystallography’ emphasizing the concepts and history of crystallography to the more dramatically-rich version

entitled ‘Bernal’s Picasso’, which explores the relationships between Science and Art and is intended for wider theater audiences. The

presentation will discus the history of the project with vignettes of previous performances, its multiple facets and its future

development as a novel way to convey crystallography to wider audiences, and to explore in a dramatic context the role of

crystallography in today’s society

[1] Sphepherd-Barr, K. Science on Stage by (Princeton University Press, 2006),

 Abstract published in  Acta Cryst. (2014), A70, C1036, as part of the abstracts for the IUCr2014 23rd Congress.