‘I wanted to reach into the rib cage of space and time and pull out not one but two beating hearts. One in each hand. And I’ve never wanted anything like that before.’
A world premiere, Ear to the Edge of Time is the product of an extraordinary odyssey of discovery and exploration for one of Australia’s great contemporary playwrights, Alana Valentine.
Inspired by true events and interviews with astrophysicists and astronomers all over the world, Valentine has written a captivating drama about a young radio astronomer who makes a universe-shifting discovery, only for her work to be taken over by her older, male, supervisor. As she wrestles with her frustration and the potential consequences of speaking out, the decision about whether to go public is taken out of her hands when a poet publishes a contentious verse about her work.
Even to the least scientific, the physics in the play is accessible, fascinating and provocative, opening a window into the world of space and time as a metaphor for the relationship of art and science.
With a stellar cast of Belinda Giblin, Gabrielle Scawthorn, Christopher Stollery and Tim Walter, and directed by the internationally acclaimed Nadia Tass, Ear to the Edge of Time is potently topical in its observation of the scientific community, and completely timeless in its exploration of the mysteries of the universe.
Ear to the Edge of Time is the winner of the fifth STAGE International Script Competition and was developed and supported by the University of California, Santa Barbara’s STAGE project and Professional Artists Lab, the California Nano Systems Institute, and through an Australia Council Fellowship. STAGE is a competition for the best play in the world about science or technology, and Ear to the Edge of Time was the winner from 200 entries from 19 countries in 2012.
“The play is based on interviews I did with diverse members of the radio astronomy community, including a two-week residency at the Parkes Observatory where I lived with the astronomers and climbed to the top of the focus cabin at the pinnacle of the dish. I then travelled to Rome to visit the Vatican Observatory and record Brother Guy Consolmagno, to London to the Royal Observatory at Greenwich to record Dr Marek Kukula and Dr Rebecca Higgit, to Oxford to interview Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell and to Manchester to the Jodrell Bank Radio Observatory to interview Professor Andrew Lyne.” – Alana Valentine
This performance contains haze/smoke
Filming and photography not permitted
*** Seymour Centre is excited to announce that we are partnering with Sydney Ideas to present their Is Art More Truthful Than Science? Forum following on from the Tuesday 16 October performance of Ear to the Edge of Time. See please see the drop-down menu below for more information. ***
This production is proudly supported by the Seaborn, Broughton & Walford Foundation.
Playwright Alana Valentine
Director Nadia Tass
Production Manager Ryan Devlin
Set Designer Shaun Gurton
Lighting Designer David Parker
Sound/Music Design Dan Nixon
Stage Manager Ruth Hollows
Assistant Stage Manager Lauren Holmes
FORUM: IS ART MORE TRUTHFUL THAN SCIENCE?
Seymour Centre is excited to announce that we are partnering with Sydney Ideas to present their Is Art More Truthful Than Science? Forum following on from the Tuesday 16 October performance of Ear to the Edge of Time. The forum will run for approximately 60mins.
Stage plays can present human characters in action and show them in all their contradictions, perversions and complexities. Often what we see in such artworks are distilled portraits of human nature under pressure and through dramatisation, we glimpse profound and deeper understanding of human life. So which is more truthful – facts and statistics or emotions and lived experience, seen through the eyes of an artist?
In Alana Valentine’s Ear to the Edge of Time, a poet writes a contentious verse about the life of a contemporary radio astronomer and it sends her into a life-changing crisis about the role of team work in 21st Century science. The play is the result of extended conversations, interviews and observations of radio astronomers working specifically in the field of neutron star physics both in Australia and Internationally and provides a provocative starting point for this lively forum about the relationship of art to science, and of both disciplines to the nature of truth in the 21st Century.
The Panellists include:
• Alana Valentine, dramatist and writer of Ear to the Edge of Time
• Professor Zdenka Kuncic, Professor of Physics at the University of Sydney
• Professor Geraint Lewis, Professor of Astrophysics at the Sydney Institute of Astronomy, University of Sydney
• Associate Professor Tara Murphy, Associate Professor at the University of Sydney and ARC Future Fellow
• Tricia Dearborn, poet
• Alana Valentine is an Australian dramatist, and was a Writer-in-Residence for 2017 at the Charles Perkins Centre, an innovative research facility addressing diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Her play Ear to the Edge of Time, researched at Parkes Observatory and in consultation with prize-winning astrophysicists won the S.T.A.G.E International Award in 2012. Alana works with Bangarra Dance Theatre as dramaturg. Recent books include Dear Lindy (NLA) and Bowerbird: The art of making theatre drawn from life (Currency Press).
• Professor Zdenka Kuncic is Professor of Physics at the University of Sydney. Her research is highly interdisciplinary and focusses on how physics can help to solve challenging problems in medicine and biology, from developing next-generation technologies for early disease detection to unravelling the physical nature of intelligence. She is an enthusiastic supporter of STEAMM.
• Professor Geraint Lewis is Professor of Astrophysics at the Sydney Institute for Astronomy at the University of Sydney. His research focuses on cosmology, gravitational lensing and galactic cannibalism, all with the goal of unravelling the dark-side of the universe. He has published more than 300 articles in astrophysics, as well as speaking to varied audiences on cosmology and the nature of the universe. He is co-author of A Fortunate Universe: Life in a finely tuned cosmos, which examines why the physical properties of the universe appear to be just right for complexity and life.
• Associate Professor Tara Murphy is an astrophysicist working at the University of Sydney and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow. She leads an international team of researchers trying to detect and study transient and highly variable astrophysical phenomena with the MWA and ASKAP radio telescopes in Western Australia. In 2017 her team detected the first radio emission from a gravitational wave event caused by the merger of two neutron stars. Tara is also passionate about teaching and public outreach. In 2014 she co-founded a start-up company, Grok Learning, to get high school students around the world excited about computational thinking.
• Tricia Dearborn is an award-winning poet whose work has been widely published in Australian literary journals, as well as in the UK, the US, Ireland and New Zealand. Her poetry has been featured in significant anthologies including Contemporary Australian Poetry, Australian Poetry since 1788 and The Best Australian Poems. She has a degree in Chemistry/Biochemistry with Honours in Biochemistry, as well as a Master of Arts, and worked briefly in scientific research. Her third full-length collection, Autobiochemistry, was completed with the support of a grant from the Australia Council for the Arts, and is forthcoming from UWA Publishing in 2019.