The Full Story
'Survival of the Beautiful'
Mojisola Adebayo's collected plays
'Metaphors for Environmental Sustainabliity'
'Mediating Climate Change'
Survival of the Beautiful. Art, Science and Evolution
by David Rothenberg
David Rothenberg's latest book, Survival of the Beautiful investigates why nature is beautiful and how art has influenced science.
"The peacock's tail," said Charles Darwin, "makes me sick." That's because the theory of evolution as adaptation cannot explain why nature is so beautiful. It took the concept of sexual selection, a process that has more to do with aesthetics than the practical, for Darwin to explain this.
Survival of the Beautiful is a new examination of the interplay of beauty, art, and culture in evolution. Taking inspiration from Darwin's observation that animals have a natural aesthetic sense, philosopher and musician David Rothenberg probes why animals, humans included, have innate appreciation for beauty-and why nature is beautiful.
See our interview with David on his book 'Thousand Mile Song', on the music of whales.
Mojisola Adebayo: Plays One
The first collection of plays by Mojisola Adebayo, actor, writer and director, will be published on 1 December by Oberon Books.
Mojisola Adebayo: Plays One includes Moj of the Antarctic: An African Odyssey, inspired by the story of Ellen Craft, a 19th century African-American slave woman who escaped to freedom by disguising herself as a white man; and
Matt Henson: North Star, which was researched on an expedition to the Arctic with Cape Farewell.
The collection is introduced by Lynette Goddard.
Mojisola participated in our film What can be asked? What can be shown? British theatre and performance in a time of climate instability.
Metaphors for Environmental Sustainability. Redefining our relationship with nature
by Brendon Larson
Yale University Press
Addressing the use of metaphors by environmental scientists to explain their work, Metaphors for Environmental Sustainability explores how metaphors entangle scientific facts with social values. Particularly in the environmental realm, an ill-considered metaphor can lead to social misunderstandings and counter-productive policies. Incautious metaphors can reinforce prevailing values that are inconsistent with sustainability.
Larson presents case studies of the metaphors of progress and competition employed by Nineteenth century evolutionary scientists. These metaphors persist and have become entrenched with progressive and capitalistic values. He examines current metaphors from biodiversity sciences for their social resonances, like the 'invasional meltdown' that carries with it militaristic and fear-mongering associations.
Larson's comprehensive overview of the role of metaphors and language in science supports his argument that scientists must assume greater responsibility for their metaphors, and that the wider public must become more critically aware of how their perceptions are being shaped by them.
See our series of New metaphors for sustainability.
Mediating Climate Change
Editors' note: There are too many books about climate change to list, but we list this one as it examines how processes of mediation and visualisation have come to shape our understanding of climate change, although primarily through the media rather than through performance.
Julie Doyle, Principal Lecturer, Media Studies at the University of Brighton, investigates how climate change is communicated and made meaningful through media coverage, NGO campaigning, visual arts, and food consumption.
Doyle explores how practices of mediation and visualisation shape how we think about, address and act upon climate change. Through historical and contemporary case studies drawn from science, media, politics and culture, she identifies the representational problems climate change poses for public and political debate. It offers ways forward by exploring how climate change can be made more meaningful through, for example, innovative forms of climate activism, the reframing of meat and dairy consumption, media engagement with climate events and science, and artistic experimentation.
The introduction and contents are available online.
Theatre Materials: What is theatre made of?
Eleanor Margolies, editor
published by Centre for Excellence in Training for Theatre/Central School of Speech and Drama (CETT)
Artists, engineers and architects look at the raw materials of theatre in Theatre Materials: What is theatre made of?. An illustrated collection of essays, edited by Eleanor Margolies, it delves into the matter of performance, from portable theatres to street arts, the physics of materials to low-energy lighting, mirror neurons to acrobatics.
Eleanor Margolies writes 'Theatre artists are experts in materials: the costume maker records how different textiles respond to dyes, the prop maker seeks out compounds and techniques developed for boat-building and aeronautics, the director and actor study the body. But these forms of knowledge, which combine tactile experience with thought and imagination, are too rarely articulated outside the workshop'.
> reflections on ‘six real things’ by celebrated American director Anne Bogart; The book is a record and continuation of the The Theatre Materials/Material Theatres conference at CETT.
> theatre critic Robert Butler trying not to sink into a muddy swamp;
> scenographer Pamela Howard auditioning fur and lace for an opera set in 1950s New York;
> cartoonist Tim Hunkin taking off his kid gloves;
> Zoe Laughlin, curator of the Materials Library, smashing roses and blasting memory alloys back into shape;
> puppeteer Sean Myatt rambling around a landscape of performing objects;
> professor of theatre Alan Read on anthrax, cement and the lure of material facts.
Other contributors are:
Rene Baker (puppeteer and lecturer at the Institut del Teatre, Barcelona)
Anne Bogart (Artistic Director, SITI Company, New York)
Jane Heather (illustrator and theatre designer)
Joanna Parker (scenographer, Central School of Speech and Drama)
Paul Rae (performer and lecturer, National University of Singapore)
Bob Sheil (architect, the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL)
Ben Todd (Executive Director, the Arcola Theatre).
For more information, contact Gail Hunt at CETT:
t: 020 7449 1571
See Eleanor Margolies articles here on the Directory on puppets and animals onstage and on the first feast.
Robert Butler blogs here.