To run a high quality event for local science-engaged adults.
To launch plans for the 2014 Abingdon Science Festival.
To make some money from funders that could subsidise other activities.
To perform a dramatic reading of Michael Frayn's play "Copenhagen", performed by local amateur actors, attracting an audience of 200 people.
Summary of activity:
We put on a dramatic reading of the play at a local theatre. We got funding from the IoP (£1100), and the local District Council (£700). The school whose theatre we were using gave it to us for a peppercorn rent.
We also charged for tickets, although around half of the tickets were given for free to “VIPs”.
At the start of the play, and in the interval, we had hands on particle physics demos as part of the ASDC “Explore Your Universe” project.
After the play there was a short discussion with the actors.
Bums on seats.
Qualitative feedback from audience and actors.
What went well:
1. We got two grants for the event and sold a handful of tickets too. This meant we were able to run it at a small cash surplus.
2. The quality of the event was excellent: actors did a great job, the demos went really well.
3. We got lots of engagement with VIPs, looking forward to the 2014 event.
What was learned:
1. Numbers were low: only 90 people came, most of whom were freebies. There was a limited appetite for this sort of event.
2. The "dramatic reading" approach is not as trouble free as I thought: actors still had to rehearse several times, and so we racked up more costs in expenses and so on than we expected.
3. The school were keen to be involved, but they did not generate much interest among their students. We offered them 75 free tickets; they took up around 5.
Top tips and advice for others
1. Doing this as part of a more concentrated event will probably work best. Because the Oxfordshire Science festival is spread over a big region and three weeks, we struggle to generate a critical mass of people outside the city centre.
2. The dramatic reading approach is great for this play in particular, and can be done in any space: it doesn't have to be a theatre.
3. This is a great way of engaging a certain type of educated science-engaged audience.