Acts of kindness. Presented by Menagerie Theatre and the Darwin Correspondence Project.
12:30PM - 1:30PM
2:30PM - 3:30PM
4:00PM - 5:00PM
An exciting and adventurous collaboration between theatre and science, centred around a new play, The Altruists, by Craig Baxter. The Altruists is about the lives and ideas of evolutionary biologists, George Price, Bill Hamilton and John Maynard Smith, who were exploring the genetic basis for human kindness. The story hones in on the tragic figure of George Price whose work and life so fatally mirrored each other. Featuring talks, interactive workshops and extracts from the work, the day is divided into 4 separate events, each focusing on one scientific backdrop to the play.
Each event is separately bookable, but there will be Medals of Altruism handed out to anyone who attends all four!
11am – 12pm
The Group, the Species, the Individual and the Gene: Levels of Selection in The Altruists
This session kicks off the day, set around an early encounter between Hamilton and Price on a park bench in London.
Dr Rebecca Kilner, Dept of Zoology, University of Cambridge
Dr Rufus Johnstone, Dept. of Zoology, University of Cambridge
12.30pm – 1.30pm
Highs and Lows: The Representation of Bi-Polar Disorder in The Altruists
This event takes Price’s mental illness as its focus, working around an hallucinatory meeting on the steps of the Galton Labs.
Dr Belinda Lennox, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford
Professor Emily Holmes, MRC Brain Sciences Unit, University of Cambridge
Dr Martina Cherubini di Simplicio, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford
2.30pm – 3.30pm
Sympathy and Altruism: Charles Darwin’s Moral Theories and The Altruists
Joel Peck (Genetics, University of Cambridge) Catherine Wilson (Philosophy, University of York) Paul White (Darwin Correspondence Project, Cambridge)
Chair: Francis Neary (Darwin Correspondence Project, Cambridge)
Despite present neo-Darwinist debates, Darwin himself was not concerned with altruism, and he and his supporters distanced themselves from the positivist ideas of Auguste Comte and Herbert Spencer. He did not think of moral questions in terms of 'altruism' or 'egoism' but, instead, his moral vocabulary included 'sympathy' and 'selfishness', and his project was to investigate the nature and origins of 'conscience' and 'moral sense'. Through short talks by invited speakers, excerpts from The Altruists, and discussion, the session will compare and contrast Darwin’s moral theories with those of the characters in the play from historical, philosophical, and scientific points of view.
4pm – 5pm
Play Science: Representing Science and Scientists on Stage.
Bringing the whole day together, this final event looks at the wider picture of theatre’s engagement with science.
Dr Kirsten Shepherd-Barr, University of Oxford, Department of English
Craig Baxter – Playwright, The Altruists
Steve Waters - Playwright, The Contingency Plan
Patrick Morris – Director, The Altruists.
Presented by Menagerie Theatre and the Darwin Correspondence Project.