The development process utilized to create Collaboratory projects is particularly unique because:
- Scientists and artists are together in the same room, at the same time, collaboratively engaged in the creation of original stage work.
- The development process is based, in many ways, upon the exploratory process of experimental science; in other words, new ways of investigating ideas are created, some of which may or may not be successful, and, with enough feedback during the process, the most powerful material that emerges is that which is explored in greater detail and eventually makes its way into the performance.
The Brain Project
The Brain Project, an eponymous new play collaboratively created by professional actors and eminent scientists, is the STAGE Collaboratory’s first theatrical creation.
In The Brain Project, the lives of a photojournalist, a detective, an art authentication expert, and a fortune teller intersect around a bizarre crime: the discovery, in an empty city lot, of a garbage bag containing a human brain. A tale of perception that parallels the functions of the brain and explores critical themes emerging from modern neuroscience, The Brain Project examines how we piece together the stories – real or illusory – of our selves. Do the firings of certain neurons in a particular pattern ultimately determine who we are?
The brain, as a complex hotbed of interactivity and circuitry, is taken as both the subject matter and the metaphor for the play and its production values. Several characters whose stories connect and “fire” off of each other in a manner reminiscent of synaptic firings are created through a unique improvisational process. On an additional level, the use of multi-media, the staging, and the design elements “echo” similar themes of perception and identity. And just as the different parts of the brain work together to function as a whole, all of these “layers” work together to make a deeply textured story for the stage. In film, camera angles and lighting, carefully-chosen edits, and multiple production values are used to convey an on-screen story; all of these things operate on many levels at once to move the narrative forward. A similar “cinematic” approach will be applied to The Brain Project by simultaneously layering various elements together to tell a compelling and entertaining story.
The Brain Project participants include prominent scientists and professional artists.