Follow the Story
Follow the Story
Follow the story of 'Imagineer' below!
The idea for 'Imagineer' was spawned from a multi-disciplinary workshop which took place in 2016, which invited artists, scientists and engineers to discuss the future. Attendees noticed that compared with other disciplines, engineers were particularly optimistic about the future. But why? Engineer Prof Colin McInnes relayed this observation to theatre Professor Carl Lavery and Dr Zara Gladman from Glasgow Science Festival, who decided that this would be an exciting topic to explore in public outreach and theatre.
Prof Colin McInnes, Prof Carl Lavery & Dr Zara Gladman
Following a successful grant application to the Royal Academy of Engineering, the hard work began! With the support of Prof Carl Lavery, and faciliated by Glasgow Science Festival, we brought together engineers and University of Glasgow theatre students (who produce work under the name 'The Doing Group') for a day of networking and inspiration. This was followed by laboratory tours provided by Dr Kevin Worrall and Dr Murray Ireland.
Playing with Ideas
Over the course of several months, The Doing Group continued their conversations with engineers and used these new sources of inspiration to develop their theatre practice. They even had a go at some simple engineering activities, like the 'egg drop' challenge!
Speaking in front of a public audience can be scary the first time. To help prepare engineers for public engagement, Glasgow Science Festival delivered free public engagement training, as well as social media training so that engineers could assist with event promotion.
On 29 September 2017, The Doing Group performed their new work 'Imagineer: [un]physical things' to a mixed audience of theatre-fans, engineers and the general public at the James Arnott Theatre. The performance was followed by a debate and panel discussion, featuring engineers Maira Vasilevska, Dr Julien Reboud, Prof Colin McInnes and theatre-make Christiana Bissett. You can listen to the discussion online via YouTube.
Imagineer for Schools
For the second phase of 'Imagineer', we aimed to develop theatre that would target the engineers of the future - secondary school pupils. Writers Emila Benita and Dr Zara Gladman and musician Stuart Cromarty teamed up to interview engineers from a wide variety of fields.
Emily Benita & Stuart Cromarty
Drawing on the research and experiences of engineers, Emily and Zara wrote the first draft of the 'Imagineer' script. Zara's lyrics were transformed by Stuart Cromarty into the beautifully catchy 'Imagineer' title track. With the first script draft ready to go, engineers were invited to provide feedback via a script read session and 'taster' show, performed by Emily Benita and Ross Somerville.
You can watch the music video for 'Imagineer' below.
With the feedback from the taster session and script read incorporated, preparations began for the real-life performances! Meanwhile, Tom Deas worked to recruit school pupils from our target areas, and Dr Zara Gladman filmed and edited engineering-themed videos (including James Watt paying a visit to his name-sake building at Glasgow!).
At last, it was show time! From 5-8 December, 'Imagineer' was performed to over 1,000 school pupils, with one public performance for adults. Each performance was coupled with a Q&A/debate led by Glasgow engineers. Audiences shared their 'engineering dreams' for the future by posting them into our custom-made time machine.
What did our audiences think? Watch the video below for some feedback.
With the project now complete, the Glasgow Science Festival team worked hard to produce a post-show schools resource for distribution to the 1,000+ pupils who attended the shows. This included answers to the most popular questions asked by pupils during the engineering Q&As.
Two focus group sessions were held for Masters students, engineers and the GSF team to reflect and share feedback on the show - and provide advice to other engineers keen to do public engagement. You can watch their responses below.
Collaborating with Engineers: Tips from Artists
Doing Public Engagement: Tips from Engineers
The Best Bits
We had a fantastically positive response from the engineers, artists and audiences involved in this project. You can watch some of the responses in the videos below.
We would like to thank everybody who contributed, came to the shows and made 'Imagineer' possible! Here's to a bright future.
With thanks to our funders, the Royal Academy of Engineering.
Artists describe their perceptions of engineering
Engineers share their best bits
Artists share their best bits