Who came to the show?
We billed it as the Fringe’s first ever comedy lecture on synthetic biology. As a hybrid between a science talk, a stand-up comedy routine and a debate, it was a platform for discussions about genome sequencing, synthetic life, de-extinction projects and genome editing. We managed to attract audience members from a wide range of backgrounds including comedians, families, students, a few scientists and – on one occasion – a dog.
What do you think is the importance of reaching new audiences?
By reaching out to new audiences, we spread the word about our science and get people talking about it. This is hugely important because the general public fund the science, but also because by entering into discussion with people you get honest reactions to big concepts, and you often get asked questions that you would not otherwise have contemplated.
I was trying to interest the public in science, but I also came back feeling hyped about the research we’re doing now. The beauty of the Free Fringe is that it’s open to anyone, and the fact that all the shows are free encourages people to take risks in their choices of which shows to see. This sprit is perfect for science outreach events which have to try hard to avoid becoming ‘by scientists, for scientists’.
I also did a stand-up comedy show at the Fringe, and would advertise the two shows together to broaden the audience I could attract. I loved it when we had audience members who had been dragged to the show by one of their friends, only to end up enjoying the show and getting heavily involved in the discussions afterwards.
What’s next for you? More science or more comedy?
A I really hope it’s both. I’m enjoying science hugely at the moment and I think that as a group we are doing some great work in the area of protein design. I’m particularly keen to do more science-based comedy. I plan to apply for follow-up funding to take another show to the Fringe next year, and I would love to take Do Scientists Dream of Synthetic Sheep? to schools and to other festivals.
You can find a much more in-depth exploration of the current outlook in Jack’s research group on the Bristol University School of Chemistry website.
Outreach Fund Update
The next deadline for applications to the Outreach Fund is 30 October 2015.
Through the fund, we support advocates of chemistry to develop projects that raise awareness of the place of chemistry in people’s everyday lives, and/or develop the science communication skills of people who are highly trained in chemistry.
See examples of projects that we have previously supported and apply now.