QED: A Play continued for a second weekend of performances in downtown Jacksonville, Illinois at the new theater Playhouse on the Square. A live panel of regional physicists joined the production in another interactive forum of “Ask a Physicist” including Dr. John Martin, Associate Professor of Astronomy and Physics at the University of Illinois – Springfield, Dr. Joanne Budzien, Assistant Professor of Physics and MacMurray College, Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, Associate Professor and Chair of Physics at Illinois, and Laurie O’Brien, physics educator at Glenwood High School.
The new venue at Playhouse on the Square in Jacksonville provided a perfect space for the intimate performances, and it allowed for a lively and interactive discussion between our physics panel and the audience.
“Heading into this experimental project of merging live theatre with informal education, I anticipated classic questions like ‘Why is the sky blue?’ and ‘Why don’t we see stars in the daytime?’ But, our patrons pushed the boundaries of our current understanding of the Universe with their questions. The audience helped create a thoroughly interesting discussion with the physicists, and I believe that many went home with a greater appreciation of how our world works,” said, Matthew T. Dearing, co-producer of Dynamic Patterns Theatre and director of this production.
Questions from our opening weekend in Springfield (read more) were rather impressive, and the Jacksonville audience added a great new collection of twenty-one more questions to our archive, which we list below. You are invited to respond to any of these questions by commenting after this article, and please provide any additional questions that you would like to submit to our panel.
“Is light matter or energy?”
“Why does the sky change color?”
“What is gravity? How was it created?”
“Do you foresee a quantum computer?”
“Why does the moon seem large sometimes and not others?”
“Do you believe there is a Theory of Everything?”
“What do you think about the science and physics as portrayed by Sheldon Cooper and Leonard Hofstater on ‘The Big Bang Theory’?”
“Can you give examples of ‘breakthroughs’ in physics: i.e., how did scientists get from ‘can’t figure that out!’ to ‘maybe we can figure that out if we resent the assumptions, etc.…’”
“What occupation would you say is the opposite of a physicist?”
“Why is there no ‘other side’ to the big bang, which is 13.7 billion light years on either side of us?”
“What is energy?” Or are we left with only an undefined term? Subatomic physics has increasingly defined matter. Has it also clarified what energy is?”
“What is ‘nothing’? Is there ‘nothing’?”
“Is there another universe?”
“What is the latest on the Higgs Boson and why is it important?”
“What is the order of the colors in a rainbow?”
“Is string theory ‘science’ since there are no observable tests for it?”
“Please discuss sustainable natural resources in relation to population growth.”
“Why does a piano have 88 keys?”
“I’m interested in the physics of dance and movement. Would the same laws of physics also apply to those types of things?”
“Is there such a thing as a wormhole? And, if so, is wormhole travel possible?”
“How does quantum mechanics make a difference in my day-to-day life? Why should I care?”
There is one more opportunity to see QED: A Play with the final weekend of performances in Decatur, Illinois on October 4 & 5 at 8:00 pm at the Decatur Area Arts Council’s Madden Arts Center . Tickets are $10 general admission, and additional information and directions to the theater may be found on our feature page.
Production photographs by Kyla Hurt of KYLART & Wes Kitner
During the opening weekend of QED: A Play at the Hoogland Center for the Arts in Springfield, Illinois, a live panel of regional physicists responded to outstanding questions posed by patrons. With two full-houses in attendance, inquiries from the infinitely large to the infinitesimally small were interactively discussed, and geared toward an informal and non-technical audience.
Dr. John Martin, Associate Professor of Astronomy and Physics at the University of Illinois – Springfield, Dr. Brian Carrigan, Assistant Professor of Natural Sciences at Benedictine University, Dr. Joanne Budzien, Assistant Professor of Physics and MacMurray College, and Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, Associate Professor and Chair of Physics at Illinois College fielded questions written down by the audience during intermission as well as after the show.
Over twenty-six questions in all were sorted through on the spot and selected to feature during each performance. From “how many galaxies are in the known universe?” to “why does warm air rise?” and “how is Voyager 1 able to communicate from outside the solar system?”, the panel was energized and tackled each question with their combined years of experience studying the field. Several questions even tested the limits of our current understanding in physics, such as “why is there more matter than anti-matter?” with the only response being: “if you could answer that one, then you’d have the Nobel Prize!” We aptly completed the discussion on Saturday night with an extended explanation on the many options to “how does the Universe end?”
Co-producer and Director of the show, Matthew T. Dearing said, “This experiment in merging informal science education with live theatrical entertainment has been so interesting to develop, and the lively interactions between the patrons and the panel was exciting to witness. People were truly inspired to dive right in and ask about our universe and wonder about it what it can reveal.”
Additional questions provided by our audiences during the opening weekend are listed below, and we invite you to respond by commenting after this article. If you have additional questions that you would like to submit to our panel, please include them as well in the comment section below.
“Why does the tail of a comet not end? How does it stay ‘alive’”?
“What is the physical difference between a living creature and the same creature when it is dead?”
“Is there any dark matter in the solar system? If not, then how likely is it that there is a huge quantity in the galaxy?”
“How is God in the ‘god’ particle?”
“Can you explain the new age theory that everything comes from nothing as made famous by Dr. Lawrence Krauss?”
“What is the ‘friendliest’ sub-atomic particle?”
“How many fundamental forces are there at last count?”
“Do atoms that are part of a living organism behave differently than those that are part of, say, a rock or a pool of liquid steel?”
“Please discuss the concept of a continually expanding infinite universe. How can something infinity small (the universe at the moment of creation) be uniform in extent? What does it mean to expand infinitely?”
“Did Feynman write a popular text book?”
“What are some of the great discoveries by physicists?”
“Politics and ‘public policy’ aside, what is the reality of global warming: is it real? If so, is modern man to blame?”
“Have there been any major errors discovered in Feynman’s work?”
“Space and time may not be fundamental… comments?”
“Is it true that slide rules are coming back?”
“If all living individuals are a pile of atoms, then how do we define life from non-living things?”
These are some rather impressive questions, and dynamic patterns theatre is honored to have been the first to bring such an IN-TER-ES-TING and unique experience to a general audience in Central Illinois. Again, please feel free to comment below and add your own questions about our Universe that you would like answered by our “Ask a Physicist” panel.
There are opportunities to see the show in the coming weeks as QED: A Play will continue performances in Jacksonville, Illinois on September 20 & 21 at 7:30 pm at the Playhouse on the Square with the final weekend in Decatur, Illinois on October 4 & 5 at 8:00 pm at the Madden Arts Center. Tickets are $10 general admission, and additional information and directions to the theaters may be found on our feature page.
Production photographs by Donna Lounsberry
In the upcoming production of QED: A Play, featuring a day in the life of Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman, dynamic patterns theatre is bringing together a unique informal educational opportunity with the traditional theatrical entertainment experience. The show weaves Feynman’s professional biography, including the Manhattan Project and the Challenger inquiry, and provides a window into many of his personal emotions and challenges, all the while offering several great discussions of physics ideas presented for a general audience.
QED, which stands for quantum electrodynamics, the physics model that describes how light and matter interact for which Feynman was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1965, is the first production from dynamic patterns theatre in the new “Science at the Theatre Series.” Through a collaboration with local physicists and teachers, patrons will experience an informal forum highlighting aspects of Feynman’s life, career and featured science topics discussed during the play. The forum will be directed toward a general audience and the panel will facilitate informal science interactions with the goal of increasing patrons’ appreciation for science and how the Universe works, if only just a bit.
“My academic background is in physics, so I am personally excited to merge my theatre and science interests into a new cultural event that has not been attempted before in Central Illinois”, said Matthew T. Dearing, co-producer of dynamic patterns theatre and director for QED.
The production is collaborating with physicists from regional academic institutions to develop a new educational and entertainment outreach targeting a broader population. The panelists include Dr. John Martin, Associate Professor of Astronomy and Physics at the University of Illinois – Springfield, Dr. Brian Carrigan, Assistant Professor of Natural Sciences at Benedictine University, Dr. Joanne Budzien, Assistant Professor of Physics and MacMurray College, Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, Associate Professor and Chair of Physics at Illinois College, and Laurie O’Brien, physics teacher at Glenwood High School.
Topics to be highlighted during the forum will feature Feynman’s character, biography, and unique personal stories, in addition to what is presented in the play. Various physics ideas and descriptions approached in the play may be discussed including how light reflects off of a glass surface, the revolutionary — and rather difficult – notion of how quantum mechanics must make us change our cozy classical mindset of Nature, and how Feynman’s “playing” with physics ultimately led him to the Nobel Prize.
And, during the show, the ultimate question posed by Feynman will be answered: “If all of scientific knowledge were destroyed, and we had only one sentence that we could pass on to the next generation, what do you think that sentence would be?”
Richard Feynman is portrayed by Al Scheider, a long-time regional actor from Decatur who has performed in over sixty community theatre productions in thirty-seven years, and has directed theater for twelve years. The supporting role of Miriam Field, a young Caltech student, is played by Lynexia Dawn Chigges, who is a LPN with Memorial Physician Services, and has performed on stages from San Diego to Springfield, Illinois.
QED: A Play performs for three weekends in three communities, with the opening on September 13, 14 at 8:00 pm in Springfield at the Hoogland Center for the Arts, September 20, 21 at 7:30 pm in Jacksonville at the Playhouse on the Square, and October 4, 5 at 8:00 pm in Decatur and the Madden Arts Center. Tickets at each venue are $10 general admission, and for additional information and to secure your ticket before the performance, click through to the QED feature page.
Dynamic Patterns Theatre is excited to announce the first production in the new Science at the Theatre Series, QED: A Play. This funny, touching, and educational show featuring a day in the of life Nobel Laureate Prof. Richard Feynman is written by Peter Parnell and stars central Illinois actor Al Scheider.
With their combined background of art, literature, and physics, Matthew and Michelle Dearing have wanted to develop a unique and interesting theatrical experience that merges quality live entertainment with an element of informal education that is primed for a broad public audience. Interestingly, there is a significant library of great theatre that revolves around scientific themes and ideas, and dynamic patterns theatre will explore this venue in its new “Science at the Theatre” Series.
“I believe it is critical for a broader public in our culture to have an increased general appreciation for science. By using creative venues for informal education opportunities, which is currently a major goal of the National Science Foundation, we can reach out to audiences searching for quality and memorable theatrical entertainment, while exposing them to inspiring and exciting ideas from science,” said Matthew T. Dearing, co-producer of dynamic patterns theatre.
QED: A Play presents scenes from a day in Feynman’s life, less than two years before his death, interweaving many strands from Feynman’s biography, including the Manhattan project and the Challenger inquiry, and more personal topics such as the death of Feynman’s wife, and his own fight with cancer.
The show will be performed September 13 and 14, 2013 at the Hoogland Center for the Arts in Springfield, Illinois and on September 20 and 21, 2013 at the Playhouse on the Square in Jacksonville, Illinois, and October 3 and 4, 2013 at the Madden Arts Center in Decatur, Illinois.
Patrons couldn’t say enough awesome things about Sherri’s performance and we’d like to feature some of the great personal reviews …
“I went to see The Belle of Amherst tonight, but unfortunately, Sherri Mitchell was not there, because… Emily Dickinson herself was there tonight! … Please, please, please go see this show and take part in this Master Class of Acting presented by Sherri!”
“Opening night was splendid! I haven’t heard such a prolonged round of applause like that in the past ten years, Sherri is sublime!”
“I always knew Sherri was amazing but really! I can’t give her show a star rating because the universe does not provide a number of stars worthy of her performance!”
“We really enjoyed the performance, Rich! (Director of The Belle of Amherst and owner of Playhouse on the Square) Thanks for all your efforts to bring another venue for the arts to Jacksonville.”
“One of the best things I’ve seen in our little town. Congrats to Sherri, Rich and all involved.”
“Must see this! Thank you Rich and Sherri… just wonderful!”
“What a wonderful show! Prepare yourself, Springfield! A force of nature is coming your way via Amherst!”
“It was an incredible show… glad we got to see it!”
“My wife and I saw the opening performance in Jacksonville… I have known Sherri almost my entire life and have shared the stage with her occasionally. That being said, what I saw was a jaw-dropping performance as Miss Dickinson. Sherri is simply amazing.”
These are all testament to the skill and dedication of the actress Sherri Mitchell, and this is a cultural opportunity for Central Illinois that must be experienced! The show runs a second weekend at The Hoogland Center for the Arts in Springfield, Illinois and tickets are available by calling the box office at 217.523.ARTS or online at hcfta.org.
Make your plans now to witness the eccentricity, deep emotion, and creative mind of one of the most important poets of the American culture beautifully portrayed by Sherri Mitchell.
Tickets are available for $18 General Admission and the show times in the Club Room are
June 7 at 7 pm :: June 8 at 2 pm :: June 9 at 2 pm
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