Monday, 10 July 2017

The Dramaturgy of Uncertainty: Stefania Bochicchio @ Edfringe 2017

Sweet Holyrood Venue 94 Aug 3-23, 26-27 7pm £10/8   50 minutes    

Certainty is not of this world

Dr. Laura Bailey PHD (Abi McLoughlin) starts delivering a lecture to her freshers on the subject of quantum mechanics, leading her captive audience through double slits experiments and cats in boxes which are dead AND alive at the same time, but the lecture turns into a confession that mixes some of the more advanced ideas of physics with the professor's secrets: what is the tragic tale that Dr. Bailey slowly reveals?

 Question answered by Stefania Bochicchio, adapter and director

What was the inspiration for this performance?
When I first saw The Principle of Uncertainty, it was being performed at EdFringe 2013 by its author, Dr. Andrea Brunello, a PHD in quantum mechanics from Cornell University. The idea of a play that starts as a lecture, illustrating quantum physics concepts in a scientifically impeccable way, and then throws an emotional curve ball based on the concepts just espoused really resonated with me. I own up to the fact of being a science geekette and that I stopped reading fiction almost entirely about 15 years ago because….well….truth is so much weirder.
But it took me four years to get from Dr. Brunello the permission to rework his text and apply some drastic changes that I wanted to do right from the beginning: I changed the gender of the lecturer because in the dynamic of the play this alters decisively its tone; her character is completely different from Dr.Brunello’s and I also reworked many passages and took out a section.
I studied at Bologna University under the tutorage of Umberto Eco, and he always maintained that he was interested in respecting the spirit and not the letter of any work.
I think I did just that in this new adaptation of The Principle of Uncertainty.
Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 
This play deals with the nature of reality, time and loss. We did a three-weeks run in London at Draper Hall SE1 and we had to stay on every single evening because many members of the audience wanted to know more about the scientific facts illustrated in the play, some were not even sure if they were facts or we had made them up because they sounded so outlandish. 

Many people were not sure if Abi (McLoughlin – Dr. Laura Bailey) was a scientist or an actor, which we really liked. In the end, I put up a feedback board where people could write down their reactions. I would love to have the same reaction in Edinburgh. So….yes!

How did you become interested in making performance?
I did my elementary schooling in Italy, in Ferrara, in a school run by Orsoline nuns. I have no catholic horror stories to tell: I was neither beaten up or abused, I have no trace of any guilt complex. With hindsight, those nuns weren’t even particularly religious, beyond celebrating the major festivities. What they were, markedly, was very much interested in ‘showbusiness’: they would put up several different performances during the scholastic year and, as I had a good singing voice and was totally devoid of any hint of stage fright, I was cast in every single production, either as a singer or as an actor or both. It became clear very soon that doing this meant that I was taken out of my classroom during normal hours often to attend rehearsals. I liked that. My memory being incapable of remembering lines even then, I quickly realised that keeping up a certain type of energy was more important than sticking to words verbatim. I found this very interesting even as a child. I understood then than text and performance are linked, but not the same thing.
Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?
In adapting and directing The Principle of Uncertainty I took the decision of pairing everything down as much as possible and to make my direction almost invisible: I wanted people to question, initially, if they were watching a lecture or a play.
To this end I decided to use exclusively house lights, but I could afford to do this because I knew that the text and Abi McLoughlin’s performance would carry the day beautifully.
Does the show fit with your usual productions?
In spirit, yes, but in spirit only.
What do you hope that the audience will experience?
Empathy and wonder and a lot of flashbacks.
What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
Addressing the audience as freshers seem to work: we saw more than one taking notes!

Dr Laura Bailey knows how to explain to everyone counter-intuitive double slits experiments or the paradox of a cat in a box which is dead and alive at the same time. 

She believes the equations that tell her unequivocally of the existence of a myriad of different universes, but when faced with a crucial event, science falls short of showing her a way out. 

Written by a PhD in quantum mechanics, The Principle of Uncertainty blends some of the more advanced ideas of physics with a powerful emotional punch that will leave the audience reeling.

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