Answer this: how far would you go to better yourself? Would you lie to your mother? Would you deny your inheritance? Would you intervene with your DNA?
The result of extensive consultation with the University of Bristol’s Synthetic Biology researchers, Invincible puts each and every audience member at the heart of a contemporary moral dilemma. This is an urgent and immersive play, commissioned to feed into a critical debate as scientists break new ground daily.
Written in collaboration with playwright, David Lane, performances take place with small audiences at ‘point-blank range’. Staged in the pressure-cooker environment of a real residential flat, set in 2048, three women traverse three generations as the political and scientific become intensely personal. And all along Bristol’s Synthetic Biologists are listening.
Each performance is followed by a discussion with the cast and specialist guests. Then it’s up to you: how far would you go?
In 2014, the University of Bristol’s Public Engagement team approached Kilter with funding from the EU to open up the new science of Synthetic Biology to more public scrutiny and debate.
The latest phase in the development of biotechnology, Synthetic Biology is enabling scientists to gain unprecedented control in programming new biological functions by rewriting the genetic code. Whilst Synthetic Biology has the potential to contribute to finding solutions to some of the major challenges faced by society today, such as health, sustainability, scarcity of resources and energy security, this new discipline allows mankind to put ‘life’ and ‘nature’ on the drawing board like never before, raising significant ethical questions – and inviting accusations of ‘playing God’.
In order to get to grips with the enormity of the subject, the creative team embarked on a remarkable, behind the scenes introduction to the ground-breaking principles of SynBio, and the knife-edge debates around its ethics. Meeting with scientists, bio-ethicists, philosophers and funders, we have worked with several groups of devising theatre-makers to explore ways in which we could make a piece of theatrical dynamite, which simultaneously educates and promotes discussion.
Invincible aims to unpack some of the personal and societal values that sit alongside this emerging field of science, allowing audience members to develop an understanding of their individual and collective agency in shaping the future direction of science.
SynBio: a Conversation!
Thursday 26 April 2018
Life Sciences Building, University of Bristol
Saturday 10 – Sunday 18 March 2018 (public performances)
Secret location, Clifton, Bristol
Tuesday 21 February – Saturday 4 March 2017 (school and public performances)
Secret location, Clifton, Bristol
“Absolutely loved it – was intrigued, challenged & entirely engaged.”
“We left feeling we’d just witnessed something very special and unique.”
“I came to see Invincible and was blown away! I really enjoyed how it was staged in a house, the audience interaction and that it was based on real research that is happening right now at Bristol University.”
“Insightful, beautiful and clever! Superb!”
“It was a really excellent show – interesting, thought-provoking and enjoyable to watch. I loved the intimacy of the space. I’ve been debating questions about synthetic biology in my head all afternoon”.
Creative Producers: Kilter
Directed & Designed by Oliver Langdon & Caroline Garland
Written in collaboration with David Lane
Cast: Alice Barclay, Anna Wheatley & Meg Whelan (2018) and Grace Courtney, Alice Barclay & Meg Whelan (2017)
Sound design & original compositions by Ben Osborn
Production Manager: Sarah Parkes
Production Assistants: Holly Barnard (2018) & Louise Ley (2017)
Illustration by Dave Bain
Filming by Suited and Booted
Photography by Benjamin Pryor
Produced in partnership with the Public Engagement team at the University of Bristol, BrisSynBio and the Cabot Learning Foundation with funding from Synenergene and the EU
With thanks to Nicky Owen at White Rabbit Media