'I wanted to reach into the rib cage of space and time and pull out not one but two beating hearts. One in each hand. And I’ve never wanted anything like that before. I wanted to know what that moment is when you cross over from nothing being there to finding it, as if by your own will you are bringing it into being in that moment.’
When a poet writes a contentious verse about the work of a contemporary radio astronomer he sends her into a life-changing crisis about the role of team work in 21st Century science. Ear to the Edge of Time is the result of extended conversations, interviews and observations of radio astronomers working specifically in the field of neutron star physics both in Australia and Internationally. The central action of the play is the discovery of a unique double pulsar system but the drama is about a deeply reluctant gender activist, the culture of contemporary science and the nature of collaborative discovery. The physics reflected in the play - the description of what pulsars are and how they spin, what is inside them and what they tell us about the science of the universe - is both fascinating and provocative, opening a window into the world of space and time as a metaphor for the relationship of art and science.
A World Premiere, Ear to the Edge of Time is the product of an extraordinary odyssey of discovery and exploration for one of Australia's greatest contemporary playwrights, Alana Valentine. The play is the winner of the fifth STAGE International Script Competition and was developed and supported, in part, through the University of California, Santa Barbara’s STAGE project and Professional Artists Lab (Nancy Kawalek, Director) and the California NanoSystems Institute. STAGE is a competition for the best play in the world about science or technology, and EAR TO THE EDGE OF TIME was the winner from 200 entries from 19 countries in 2012. The judges were Pulitzer Prize-winning playwrights Tony Kushner, David Lindsay-Abaire and Donald Margulies, and Nobel Laureates Robert C. Richardson, Frank Wilczek and David J. Wineland. It was also supported by an Australia Council Fellowship.
"The play is based on interviews I did with diverse members of the radio astronomy community, including a two week residency at the Parkes Observatory where I lived with the astronomers and climbed to the top of the focus cabin at the pinnacle of the dish. I then travelled to Rome to visit the Vatican Observatory and record Brother Guy Consolmagno, to London to the Royal Observatory at Greenwich to record Dr Marek Kukula and Dr Rebecca Higgit, to Oxford to interview Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell and to Manchester to the Jodrell Bank Radio Observatory to interview Professor Andrew Lyne." - Alana Valentine
Read at the Samuel Beckett Theatre in Dublin as part of its success in the STAGE International Script Award, the Irish Mail's Michael Moffat wrote: ‘I left the Samuel Beckett Theatre in Trinity College all fired up about the wonderful world of double pulsars, gravitational waves, supernova and…radio astronomers, in search of the secrets of the universe.'
Ear to the Edge of Time
by Alana Valentine
Directed by Nadia Tass
Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre
Oct 11th to 27th