Science at the Theatre from dynamic patterns theatreIn 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.

University of Illinois at Springfield

Illinois College

The production is collaborating with physicists from regional academic institutions to develop a new educational and entertainment outreach targeting a broaderGlenwood High School 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.

MacMurray College Benedictine University

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 from Dynamic Patterns Theatre

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.



We enjoyed the performance of QED very much.  I have been a fan of Richard Feynman since I saw tapes of his lectures on physics in the 1960's.  

I hope you continue this series.  Two of the science related plays I have enjoyed are "Oxygen" by Carl Djerassi and Roald Hoffmann and Steve Martin's "Picasso at the Lapin Agile". 

Best wishes.

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updated September 22, 2014