A conversation with journalists took place at the end of this morning to present the play that will close the Cultural Week of the University of Coimbra (UC). The event gathered the play director, Alexandre Lemos, the director of the theatre, Fernando Matos Oliveira, and the scientist and UC professor, Carlos Fiolhais. Marionet’s Artistic Director, Mário Montenegro, and the play’s cast were also present.
The conversation began with the director presenting the play, contextualising it within Marionet’s history and its path of creating dialogues between art, science and technology. «In this case, art and science are in dialogue about nanotechnology. What we’ve been doing over the last few months has been a journey into the present of research on this scale, in essence we’ve been getting to know nanotechnology’s state of the art, with a series of visits and conversations with guests who are more or less distant from the current technology of the nano-scale.» Alexandre Lemos emphasised, with regard to the company’s plays, «the ability to communicate the ideas of science it aims to promote and invite the public to participate in each new concept addressed», later referring to the play he staged as an invitation «to visit what we ourselves have visited in recent months».
Carlos Fiolhais, a professor in the Physics Department at the University of Coimbra, was one of the guests the team visited during the creation of the play and has been a regular presence in Marionet’s work since the company’s first play that touched a scientific topic, in this case “The Revolution of the Celestial Bodies”, in 2001. The scientist inevitably spoke about his field of knowledge, emphasing that it is not in a crisis: «Science is made of human curiosity and it’s hard to extinguish, just like art.» When asked about nanotechnology, Carlos Fiolhais argued that it is a word that is entering our lives, “a word that is already appearing in newspaper headlines and that wasn’t used a few years ago. NANO, which is a prefix, comes from Greek and means dwarf and is a measure of the very small.»
One of the most frequently asked questions during the creation of this play also came up: what is the smallest thing you’ve ever seen? Carlos Fiolhais himself replied that he has seen things in the nanometre range, explaining what it means to see in this context: «Today there are instruments that are advancing in relation to sight and sight, in turn, is advancing in relation to the brain. Our brain gets bigger when our eye gets bigger and so we see more, we know more, we are more capable.»
The director of TAGV, co-producer of the play, had the opportunity to contextualise our work and his expectations for this new premiere: «It’s interesting how Marionet brings to the stage, to the public space, an exercise in communication through scientific dissemination, but also to question the ethical and scientific scope of this field research that manages to establish a dialogue between the areas that is not reductive (…) I never get tired of saying this, because there aren’t many examples like this in Portugal, nor in Europe.»
On the eve of the premiere of this play, we feel it is pertinent to highlight the words of Carlos Fiolhais on our work: «Theatre is able to bring science to the public and transform it. It is thought that imagination plays no role in science, but imagination is the engine of knowledge.»