City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Royal Lyceum Joins Science Festival For Selfie Shows


By Irene Brown - Posted on 21 February 2017

A Number image by Aly Wright.jpg

The Edinburgh International Science Festival and The Lyceum Theatre are collaborating on a programme of shows that explore the nature of self and identity in the 29th year of the festival.

At the top of the bill is the Scottish premiere of the play A Number, written by acclaimed contemporary playwright Caryl Churchill and directed by award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and director Zinnie Harris. The drama premiered in 2002 at The Royal Court where it won the Evening Standard Award for Best Play with its powerful exploration of the boundaries and ethics of science.

Bernard has spent 35 years believing he’s an only child, one of a kind, until he learns the chilling truth. He’s one of ‘a number’ of clones resulting from a nefarious genetic experiment. When he confronts his father, Salter, questions of identity and morality result in an explosive exchange with terrible consequences...

Zinnie Harris, director of A Number, said, “The play is overtly about genetics and cloning, but it’s also about parenting and what happens to the bond between a father and son when it goes wrong. It’s a rare gem of a play, and is surprising and utterly unique, taking the audience down avenues of thought that they won’t predict. Cast members Peter Forbes and Brian Ferguson are an electric combination, and I think their performances will be something quite special.”

Who Do You Think You Are? series

Throughout the production’s run, the Festival will host Who Do You Think You Are?, a series of conversations during which renowned creative and academic figures will be brought together to discuss subjects inspired by the challenging moral inquiry of A Number.

On Saturday 8 April, Emmy and BAFTA Award-winning BBC presenter and social psychologist Aleks Krotoski will discuss Online Identity, including how technology is influencing how we present ourselves, authenticity versus artifice, and how sharing information online could hamper freedom, with author and musician Pat Kane, formerly of the duo Hue and Cry, and activist for Scottish self-government.

On Tuesday 11 April, award winning poet and novelist James Robertson, whose work includes The Testament of Gideon Mack, And the Land Lay Still, Joseph Knight, and The Fanatic, will question what it means to be and to feel Scottish, what contributes to our sense of national identity, and what science has to say about national identity.

On Wednesday 12 April, scientist and author Steve Jones FRS, previously Head of the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London discusses whether identity can really be split into inherited factors and environment in a fascinating conversation entitled Nature, Nurture or Neither?

On Thursday 13 April, award-winning crime novelist Christopher Brookmyre, whose work includes Scottish Crime Book of the Year Black Widow, and Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize-winner A Snowball in Hell, will discuss what makes us who we are, and how the concepts of selfhood and otherness impact our lives and attitudes, with Flint & Pitch’s Director and spoken word performer Jenny Lindsay in Me, Myself and I.

The final talk, held on Saturday 15 April, will be led by A Number director Zinnie Harris and The Lyceum’s Artistic Director David Greig, who will discuss the powerful and provocative questions posed by the play, their fascination with the themes it tackles, and their thoughts on and its place on the stage.

Amanda Tyndall, Creative Director of Edinburgh International Science Festival, said, “Edinburgh International Science Festival has long championed the value of linking science with the arts. Our Science in the Spotlight project brings together science and theatre to engage audiences with the big questions and debates of contemporary science, so we are delighted to be partnering with The Lyceum for the first time in 2017 to further develop this strand of our work.”

More on the Edinburgh International Science Festival.