Chemistry in theatre – Insufficiency, phallacy or both is the title of Carl Djerassi’s latest book.
He is someone we’ve mentioned before in this blog as I selected him for the My Hero series but of course he is best known as the father of the contraceptive pill. He is also an accomplished and prolific writer, who’s published, among other works, nine plays, five novels and an autobiography.
I was lucky enough to be invited to a dramatic reading of Insufficiency last night at the chemistry department, University of Cambridge, UK. It is a play that deals with actual (rather than invented) chemistry – the science of ‘bubbleology’ as applied to champagne and beer bubbles – and where, rather refreshingly, ’chemists play key roles as chemists rather than as the proverbial nerds or Frankensteins’. According to the author, ‘even the terrain itself, locationally as well as thematically, is chemical’.
Chemists everywhere will very much enjoy the book as it dramatises issues from the world of academia that many of us will recognise and identify with. Djerassi addressed the audience ahead of the reading to encourage reflection around the tribal nature of a scientist’s behaviour and also to advise that the book has been conceived to be used primarily as reading material — as texts to be read alone or in dramatic readings — rather than emphasising performances on the stage.
The play will be premiered in September in London and those attending Euchems in Prague at the end of August will be glad to know that the play will be part of the cultural programme.
We’ve already sent the book to be reviewed for our Reviews section so keep an eye on the website. If you are interested in what our reviewers have said about some of his earlier work you can read it here and here.