Can Theatre Help Us Do Better Science?

Meet biology-theatre major Eva Licht ’21

September 29, 2021

Major: biology–theatre

Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colorado

Thesis advisers: Prof. Derek Applewhite [biology] and Prof. Kate Bredeson [theatre]

Thesis: “Rehearsing Reality: An Investigation into Split Discs, Cell Migration, and the Power of Forum Theatre”

What it’s about: I explore using forum theatre, a theatrical form that uses audience participation for problem-solving, to support science research and accessibility. My biology research explores a new method for investigating the protein SPECC1L’s impact on cell migration and craniofacial disorder development.

What it’s really about: Can theatre help science learning or participation? Does the protein SPECC1L affect cell migration? How are science and theatre similar, and how can they support each other?

In high school: I was a theatre-kid, played tennis, and spent a lot of time in the theatre green room with my friends making funny videos.

Influential class: In European Drama, Prof. Pancho Savery [English] trusted the students to lead conferences and to keep the conversation moving forward. Reading a play a week and discussing it in depth was really helpful for developing my understanding of the plays and their similarities. I made sure to take a class with him every semester.

Influential book: Theatre of the Oppressed by Augusto Boal—I was really inspired by the idea that theatre can be a rehearsal for the revolution, and that when wielded by the people, they can have the power to change oppressive social systems.

Concept that blew my mind: Speciation. The lines we draw between species are rather arbitrary. There is much debate about where one species ends and the next begins.

Cool stuff I got to do: I was a board member for the Reed Independent Performance Project, a student-led production team that helps students make art on campus, and a coordinator for the Sunrise Movement at Reed. I took a PE class where we went kayaking or rafting every week.

Ability developed at Reed: I directed three productions at Reed, which taught me so much about who I am as a leader. Leading a team of students in a rehearsal really helped grow my confidence, communication, and leadership skills.

Help I got along the way: I received an Initiative Grant from the Paul K. Richter & Evalyn Elizabeth Cook Richter Memorial Fund, and was able to attend a forum theatre facilitation training through Theatre of the Oppressed NYC—a really incredible experience!

How Reed changed me: Reed helped me to take risks and pursue what I love. I was exposed to so many new experiences and was encouraged to try new things and believe in myself.

What’s next: I spent the summer working with a team at Faultline Ensemble to devise a performance for the opening of a wellness center on Yale’s campus for their new master’s in public health and theatre program.