Engineers use theatre to reach new audiences with their research

Image by Sally Jubb Photography
Image by Sally Jubb Photography

Over the past eight months, 14 engineers from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Engineering have been learning how to use drama as a tool to communicate their research through the CreateWorks project, funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Ingenious Award*.

Stepping out of their usual comfort zone of lectures, research papers, and conferences, the engineers have been guided through the creative process by Braw Fox Theatre's dynamic creative team Amy McKenzie and Jo Rush alongside playwright Dave Fargnoli to write their own audio dramas.

This innovative collection of 14 short audio dramas have been performed by a talented cast of actors from across Scotland and recorded by sound designer Calum Paterson.

Stories of engineering impact

Each play skilfully connects the writer’s specialist research to the lives that their work directly impacts. Covering everything from cutting-edge breakthroughs to climate change, from red tape to rogue robots, ice storms and intrepid journeys into the unknown, these stories give us a snapshot of a changing world, where every new discovery has the potential to benefit, bewilder, endanger, or inspire mankind.

The dramas will be released from Monday 21 June 2021 and will be freely available for the public to listen to on the CreateWorks website. They will also feature during this year’s online programme of events for Edinburgh Science Festival (Saturday 26 June – Sunday 11 July 2021).

Listen Live at Lunch

To accompany the release of the audio dramas, the project will host a series of ‘Listen Live At Lunch’ live streaming events, every lunchtime at 12.30pm from Tuesday 22 – Friday 25 June.

During these lunchtime sessions, attendees will be able to listen to the audio dramas and hear directly from the engineers about the inspiration behind their work and more about their research.

Dr David Rush, Senior Lecturer in Structural Engineering, who has co-ordinated this project explained “We hope many members of the public will enjoy this chance to hear powerful audio dramas that explore how engineering is changing the world around us. Through storytelling our engineers have communicated incredibly complex ideas and processes, but also connected these complexities to human stories, helping them learn more about the potential impact of their work.”

One participant, Dr Encarni Medina-Lopez described the project as “like an escape route that gave me a whole new set of skills and interests” while PhD student participant Durai Arun Pannir Selvam said “it was truly a remarkable experience” and that “being an engineer working in an interdisciplinary environment, these skills [will] certainly help me in bridging the communication gap.”

*The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Ingenious Award supports creative public engagement with engineering projects while providing engineers with skills and opportunities to share their stories, passion and expertise with the public.

Event information

  • Listen Live at Lunch: Join livestream events of the audio plays followed by a Q&A with the writers at 12.30pm every day, Tuesday 22 – Friday 25 June 2021.
  • The CreateWorks audio plays will feature within the online programme of events for this year’s Edinburgh Science Festival from Saturday 26 June – Sunday 11 July 2021.

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