When I was doing my Radcliffe fellowship, it wasn't surprising to me that my most frequent tablemates at Harvard lunches were the artists and the scientists. Science and playwriting—or any kind of fiction writing, or maybe any kind of art?—share so many commonalities, it's funny that some people think of these fields as polar opposites. Scientists are some of the most creative and nuanced thinkers I've met, and writers are often disciplined creators with real technical skill.
As a science communications professional and playwright, I trade in both worlds. Scientific communications is a career I pursue in parallel to my playwriting career, but unlike the survival jobs and day jobs of my 20s, there's less tension between them, and much less competition for time, believe it or not. I've written better plays about witches while also creating one-pagers about CRISPR. I've added feedback sessions to our lab meetings, and I've brought a more objective and clinical eye to the script notes I send to fellow writers.
When scientists discuss their research, they often talk about reducing noise, or data that are outliers, false determinants, or meaningless information. Drawing conclusions often requires much iteration to unearth the true signals of experimental results, repeating experiments until the noise is decreased. Noise can't just be discounted, but considered, worked through, resolved.
What an elegant metaphor for the writing process as well. Writing is iterating, experimenting, drawing the clear thread of communication from the noise.
A friend of mine who runs a theater program at a university here in Cambridge talked to me once about a class she thought I could teach: Dramaturgy and the Scientific Method. A dream class. Open to both dramatists and scientists, the class would discuss how one process can inform the other, where creativity sits alongside structure, what methodology looks like in theater. I'd love to see the work that would come out of that class, and the unlikely collaborations that might endure.
Yes, I would like to teach that class someday, but I also wish I could go back in time and take it myself.
Just some odds and ends, from time to time