The project aimed to use science made simple's expertise in presenting visually engaging and entertaining demonstrations of physics to perform in an unusual context i.e. as part of a cabaret-style evening alongside other acts (comedy, music, circus etc). It was supported by an IOP public engagement grant.
Summary of activity:
The project was instigated by an invitation for science made simple to participate in The Horne Section – a jazz-infused comedy night. The host, comedian Alex Horne, has gathered some of the UK’s finest jazz musicians and mixed them with top name comedians and novelty acts to create an evening of entertainment. A number of unforeseen circumstances, meant changes to the venue, staff and planned content but it also created new opportunities and in addition to the Horne Section at the Edinburgh Fringe, science made simple performed science demonstration routines at 4 other cabaret nights reaching a total audience of 1300.
What went well:
1. Embedding physics demonstrations within an evening of entertainment helped reach a broader audience, many of whom were not science event attendees.
2. The performances were very well received sparking lots of positive comments and questions about physics.
3. All six cabaret events were sold out providing a ready made audience and did not require any additional marketing.
What was learned:
1. The concept of physics demonstrations as a artform that can fit in amongst other types of cultural performance has huge potential.
2. Standup routines can easily be shortened or lengthened, need little rehearsal and bookings are often very last minute. This is at odds with the science demonstration routines which require preparation, are often more technical and less flexible.
3. Whilst the project benefited from being in a show with big names that attracted the audience, the physics was not a draw itself. This meant that it had to prove it’s worth and the quality of stagecraft had to be on a par with other performers.