The first science theatre cycle premiered in Córdoba

With the subsidy for promotion granted by CONICET, the play Hormigas al Poder! was performed

A scene from Hormigas al Poder! Photo: Courtesy researchers.

Bernarda and Federica, two ant scientists aim to conquer the world and take the power unfairly concentrated in the hands of men for centuries. For this reason, they resort to the help of Gregorio, the cockroach, and decide to study the behaviour of humans and their neuroscience explanations. Thus, the insects visited four towns in the hills of Córdoba and carried out the first raid on the city.

Under the direction of Hugo Carrer, a multidisciplinary team was created. The project was undertaken together with the Tacurú Teatro group. The first cycle of the Trashumante Science Theatre: Hormigas al Poder! was presented in Janury, 2014 in different parts of Córdoba with a large audience. Maria Gabriela Paglini, CONICET independent researcher at Mercedes and Martin Ferreyra Research Institute (INIMEC – CONICET – UNC), and María Victoria Pisano recount how the process was.

Where did the idea for Hormigas al Poder! come from?

MVP- It arose from a Specialization in Public Communication of Science where Mariela López Cordero, journalist, and Franco Mir, biologist, PhD student in Neurosciences and member of Young Researchers in Neurosciences (JIN) met. Since Franco is also an actor, they decided to try something new and not often carried out in Argentina: Science Theatre. For this reason, they introduced the idea to the JIN and the Argentine Society of Neurosciences (SAN). This interdisciplinary stamp has been kept along the project and is one of the characteristics that enriched it most.

MGP- Since a great part of the JIN were trained at the INIMEC and the activities are always performed there, the link was almost obvious. Despite the fact that JIN’s promotion activities involve less time at the laboratory, they have always been supported because they are positive for the training of scholars.

Who was this play addressed to?

MVP – JIN’s objective has always been to promote science for the society. However, in all our initiatives, it was very difficult for us to distance ourselves from the academic or school environment. For this reason, the play has a different format because it is performed in the street, in tourist and crowded places where people are not expecting this kind of activity.

What is the play about?

MVP – In order to conquer the world, these ants begin to analyze different types of learning and memories, what is to forget; and which areas of the brain are involved in those processes. These characters talk about key issues within the basic theoretical framework of learning and memory in a very concise way and with examples.

Why is it important to promote neurosciences?

MVP- Scientists should have the duty and the responsibility to open the doors of their laboratories and communicate their work to the society, which is the reason why we are able to pursue our studies. If all new knowledge remains in the lab there is no point in doing it because it will only reach just a few people.

MGP – Furthermore, I think it is important to promote scientific vocations and demystify the role of the scientist so that people know that we are not necessarily erudite and we have an ordinary life as any other person.

How was the writing process of the script?

MVP – We, the JIN’s team, conducted talks about diverse topics related to our studies. With that knowledge, the Tacurú group asked questions, selected the most appropriate cast and tried to relate that information to everyday situations using simple language.

What was your opinion about the performance?

MGP – I loved the preview at the INIMEC. The language used to deal with very technical content was fluent and natural. All the previous work is noticeable because the actors do not have the possibility to improvise or change the script. That first performance was very important because it was attended by scientists and artists who also provided feedback to check contents and forms. For me, that was the “quality assurance” of the play.

MVP – Since we have only participated in part of the process, it was a mystery for us to think how they could take that content and produce something fun, dynamic, for all ages. Besides, the play had to be prepared to be performed in an environment like the hills, where anything could happen with the people, the wind, and the noise and so on. Fortunately, the performance was impeccable.

How does the project continue?

MGP – The initial project comprises three plays, with the same argument and characters but with different topics. This one was about memory and learning. The following ones are going to be about drugs and brain, and sex differences in the brain, whose scripts have already been started.

This project received a subsidy from the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET), the support of the National University of Córdoba (UNC) and the Secretariat for Science and Technology (SECyT) of the same institution. Besides, the Argentine Society of Neurosciences (SAN) and the Doctorate in Neurosciences (UNC) support it as well.

  • By Mariela López Cordero. CCT Córdoba.
  • Versioning: Cintia B. González.
  • About the project:
  • Hugo F. Carrer.
  • Gabriela Paglini. INIMEC (IMMF-CONICET-UNC)
  • M. Victoria Pisano. INIMEC (IMMF-CONICET-UNC)
  • Lisandro Laurino
  • Juan Perotti
  • Noelia Maldonado
  • Emilio Zamponi
  • Mariela López Cordero. CCT Córdoba
  • Tacurú Theatre (click here to visit its facebook website)
  • Cast: Franco Mir, Jimena Ghisolfi and Vreni Schindler
  • Scientific promotion and press: Mariela López Cordero
  • Dramaturgy: Tacurú Teatro
  • Scientific advice: JIN
  • Technology: David Mecoli and Pablo Ahumada
  • Costume: Rafael Taborda
  • Music: Maximiliano Navarro and Antonio Sanchez
  • Animation work and projections: Jeremías Di Pietro