The Anaximander scene continues a tradition in which the dialogues between the arts and the sciences propitiate the energies for the growth of culture; a tradition that could begin with the works of Georg Büchner due to his status as a physiologist; August Strindberg and the crossroads between chemistry and alchemy; Bertolt Brecht and dialectical materialism; or Samuel Beckett and the concept of entropy.
The dramatic texts gathered here were the result of meetings between playwrights from the Nuevo Teatro Fronterizo, under the direction and coordination of José Sanchis Sinisterra, and scientists summoned by the TeatrIEM group of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC). Hence, the book contains not only five plays, but also many other articles that address, from the perspective of science, the various territories that the characters travel: neurosciences in Pheromonesby Pilar González Almansa; large scientific facilities in Raptors and hams. Our particular Olympiadby Mari Cruz García; mathematics in Listen to me, listen to me, listen to meby Carlos Molinero; biodiversity in The garden of the Beagleby Enrique Torres; and cosmology and universe in Almost (Moebius ring)by José Sanchis Sinisterra.
«[…] our deep vocation to explore the frontiers of theater with other artistic practices (narrative, cinema, dance, plastic arts …), with other domains of knowledge (philosophy, physics, botany, neuroscience, historiography …), with other cultural and geographical contexts ( fundamentally, Latin America), with other social sectors (emigrants, refugees, groups at risk of exclusion …), with other historical horizons (the conquest of the New World, the Spanish civil war, anonymous exile, Francoism) and, very especially , our equally deep conviction that it is in the dialogues between the arts and the sciences where the fundamental energies are found to arouse the growth – not progress, not innovation, not modernization – of Culture, with a capital letter ».
Jose Sanchis Sinisterra, from the prologue
Science consists in looking further, in realizing that our ideas are often very inadequate the moment we leave our little garden. It consists above all in unmasking our prejudices.
Art, in general, and theater in particular, are more or less the same …
Jose Sanchis Sinisterra
I must admit that, today, the title of this book, The Anaximander scene, It is not as adequate and illustrative as when it occurred to me to propose it, during the implementation of a project as infrequent as it was to bring together playwrights and specialists from various scientific fields to generate a “scenic object”, that is, a show theatrical.
In that circumstance, the figure of Anaximander, who twenty-six centuries ago, in Miletus (west coast of present-day Turkey), regardless of gods and supernatural powers, laid the foundations of rational thought and opened for the human being the desire to investigate and need to rethink the world over and over again; Such a figure, I say, attributing to it, moreover, a “scene,” undoubtedly evoked in me a fertile intertwining of art and science. And I wanted the project, in a way, to pay tribute to him. But I also perceived that, as a title, it left something to be desired …
Hence the subtitle Theater and science encounters better defines this confluence, the fruits of which we offer in the book you have just opened. And it does so with more precision and vagueness – worth the contradiction – than other possible names, such as: “scientific theater”, “science theater”, “science in theater” or, worse still, “themes and characters scientists on stage »… The term encounters, in my opinion, more sincerely depicts the diversity with which the authors who volunteered to participate in this New Border Theater proposal, unleashed and promoted by TeatrIEM, faced the« commission »of writing a short dramatic text, whose theme or formal structure is related to some aspect of scientific activity. As can be seen, the aforementioned proposal was sufficiently lax for each one to grant said meeting —between theater and science— the form, distance, duration, intensity, tone, etc., that their circumstances and inclinations dictated.
In addition, the dramatic texts published here were the result of personal encounters that took place between the playwrights proposed by the NTF and the scientists summoned by the CSIC, both group and private encounters. Hence, the book contains not only the five plays, but also many other articles that address, from the perspective of science, the various territories that the characters travel in their humble theatrical texture.
But I hasten to clarify, speaking on behalf of the authors, that their small works are not intended to be an illustration or stage “translation” of the complex research fields exposed by scientists. Part of its content, orally presented, was undoubtedly part of the conversations held between one and the other during the election and writing process, some of which I was fortunate to attend at La Corsetería, then the headquarters of the Nuevo Teatro Fronterizo. .
And to the spirit that emerged in such encounters, I want to refer, to conclude this unnecessary introduction, since it crystallized in them what had been, from its beginnings in Barcelona at the end of the seventies until today, our deep vocation to explore the frontiers of theater with other artistic practices (narrative, cinema, dance, plastic arts …), with other domains of knowledge (philosophy, physics, botany, neuroscience, historiography …), with other cultural and geographical contexts (mainly, Latin America), with other social sectors ( emigrants, refugees, groups at risk of exclusion …), with other historical horizons (the conquest of the New World, the Spanish civil war, anonymous exile, Francoism) and, very especially, our equally deep conviction that it is in the dialogues between the arts and sciences where the fundamental energies to arouse growth meet – not progress, not innovation, not modernization. of Culture, with a capital letter.
By not sticking to Western literature, it would be enough to endorse what has been said by evoking the growing presence of the theme, thought, discourse and even the compositional key from scientific thought that operate within the work of authors such as Rabelais, Swift, Poe, Flaubert, Tolstoi, Dostoevsky, Proust, Musil … And as for the interaction between science and theater, we could point out as a precursor to the short and powerful career of Georg Büchner, whose works integrate the revolutionary commitment to his status as a “physiologist”; or mention the vital and artistic crossroads between chemistry and alchemy (and delirium) from which the work of August Strindberg springs; and the dialectical materialism that underlies the thought and aesthetics of Bertolt Brecht; or Dürrenmat’s sarcastic look at the “physicists”; and the demanding poetics of Armand Gatti, capable of articulating quantum mechanics and Galois’s group theory with the anarchist political ideology in his theater. And a long etcetera.
But I would not want to close this incomplete relationship without including in it – as a culmination that is very close to me – Samuel Beckett, whose production, both theatrical and narrative, as reflected in his notebooks from 1930 onwards, is nourished by some of the epistemological revolutions that they shook their time … and they are still valid in ours. In his reading notes, there are books on astronomy, geology, biology, physical sciences, psychology … In particular, his interest in thermodynamics and the concept of entropy, as well as in Gödel’s theorem and its inexorable logical consequences of the uncertainty principle and from undecidability they run -although often transvestites- through the dramatics and other “texts for nothing” by the great Irishman. For the greater inri of those who still call his works “theater of the absurd” …
Jose Sanchis Sinisterra
Jose Vicente Garcia Ramos He is a doctor in Chemical Sciences. His research focuses on Raman spectroscopy on metallic nanoparticles to make nanosensors. He is currently a research professor at the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) at the Institute for the Structure of Matter, of which he was director during the period 2003-2008. He has been president of the Spanish Society of Optics (1996-1999) and of the Spanish Group of Spectroscopy (1998-2002), associate coordinator of the scientific-technical area of Physics and Physical Technologies of the CSIC (2004-2008) and deputy vice president of Programming CSIC scientist (2008-2012). His research work has been recognized with the Jesús Morcillo Award from the National Spectroscopy Meeting (2002). In 2013 he formed the scientific theater group TeatrIEM, which he currently directs, and has written the chapter “Light and Molecules” in the popular book The light. Science and Technology (CSIC-Los Libros de la Catarata, 2015).