Comedian and broadcaster Rosie Wilby presents highlights from her comedy show ‘Is Monogamy Dead’ with accompanying talk and discussion, and reveals the results of her online survey asking what counts as cheating. The intimate setting of The Bullingdon (7 pm Wed 17 October) promises an honest, thought-provoking and bittersweet evening, whilst in Waiting for Pavlov (7 pm Sat 13 October), a short two-handed play in St Aldate’s Tavern, written and performed by Irish psychologist Martin O’Neil, highlights developments in psychology and neuroscience with pints of humour. Inspired by the format of Waiting for Godot, this comedy presents big ideas in science into a small space over a few drinks with a large glug of laughter: sceptical Seamus is led by his intuition while philosophical Gerry takes a rational approach as the pair pick apart the nature of the relationship between science and its application in the real world.
There are elements of comedy too in the Science Cabaret in the Wig and Pen on Thursday 18 October which unpicks the idea of whether a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Featuring Chris Lintott from BBC Sky at Night, Oxford University biologist Alison Woollard, a Royal Institution Christmas Lecturer, and Lucy Rogers from Robot Wars – oh and opinions from the internet which has made all of us experts if only you ask the right question.
If Internet speeds baffle you, then watch out for sunlight as it arrives just eight minutes after leaving our star, travelling the 93 million miles to reach the earth. As part of IF Oxford, this journey through the galaxies is replicated on the stage of Oxford Playhouse in a contemporary hour-long dance show 8 Minutes (3 pm & 7.30 pm; Sat 13 October). It’s an unusual and invigorating approach to astrophysics, strikingly presented by the Alexander Whitley Dance Company, which shows the contortions of planets and sunbeams as they travel through space. Taking solar science research from the STFC RAL Space at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory as its starting point, with a score by the electroacoustic music innovator Daniel Wohl and striking backdrop from BAFTA Award-winning visual artist Tal Rosner, ‘8 Minutes’ promises an immersive experience in the heavens.
Frankenstein Reconstructed is another ground-breaking performance presented for IF Oxford. This one-off one-woman show tells a new, unsettling story about science and experimentation. It is inspired by Mary Shelley’s classic book Frankenstein (the original manuscript of which is on show in The Bodleian as part of Sappho to Suffrage: Women Who Dared) and by the surroundings in which it will be shown: the atmospheric Oxford University Museum of the History of Science, used in the 17th-century as a chemical laboratory and for anatomical investigation.
Since the publication of the novel, even the word ‘Frankenstein’ has lived on in our cultural imagination, attaching itself to all kinds of new science including genetic engineering, IVF, Artificial Intelligence, and provoking legitimate questions around not only whether we can make certain things happen, but whether we should. ‘Frankenstein Reconstructed’ draws on research from a wide array of sources, including expert- and first-hand witness accounts of early electricity, arctic exploration, as well as romantic literature. And in the basement gallery itself, exhibits relating to chemistry and early electricity provide the perfect historical context.
Designed for inquisitive minds of all ages and taking a broad approach to science and society, the festival includes both cutting-edge research and investigation from world-leading academics and business alongside a refreshing new approach to ideas about the world at large, knitting the boundaries of traditional academic disciplines.
Other performance events during IF Oxford include: