RIVER WEST — Art Meets Science at the Theater, a new play festival from local writers, plans to provide a place for sci-fi, fantasy and horror theater when it debuts next month in River West.
The festival, which takes place July 11-13 at Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago Ave., is set to include short and full-length productions, a one-act play and a "flash play" contest in which 10 roughly 4-minute plays compete for an audience award.
Tickets are $10 and will be available only at the door.
Barbara Wells, a North Center playwright, said she's seen too few sci-fi productions in her nearly 30 years as a local writer.
"The genre that includes fantasy and horror seems to be quite disrespected on our stages," Wells said.
That might have to do with the obstacles writers often grapple with in imagining such plays, including creating special effects on stage and what kind of tone to set with those genres, which trend toward campy.
But more than creating a place for writers to stage unconventional productions, Wells said she wants the festival to highlight connections between art and science and the ways the two subjects influence each other.
She offered Prince Rupert's Drop as an example, in which molten glass is dropped into cold water and begins to take on certain properties, such as a toughness and resistance to breaking. But if the tail of the drop is flicked, the whole thing explodes.
That phenomenon mixes the art of glassmaking with the study of physics, she said, and has provided something of a theme for the new festival.
A Prince Rupert's Drop will be "safely" exploded during a flash play each evening of the event, Wells said.
The flash plays were submitted from writers all over the world and selected by Wells and other fest organizers, she said. Many of those putting on the fest are part of Chicago Dramatists' Network Playwright Program, which seeks to hone skills of authors from all experience levels.
In addition to the flash play competition, Wells said there will be prizes given to a festgoer deemed to have the best real or faux mustache as well as the most colorfully dressed audience member.
More information about Art Meets Science at the Theater is available on the fest's website.
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