Cinderella the Physicist: theatre preview

“They’re my new friends, Buttons! My Ugly – on the inside – Step – not that that’s relevant – sister said I couldn’t go to the Royal Twins’ party and they used physics to help me. We should lure sister into the wardrobe with sweets? That’s mean! Let’s do it though.” 

Theatre of Science presents Cinderella the Physicist: the story of a shy, downtrodden girl who falls in love with finding out about the world. While the much-loved tropes of the classic tale remain – the handsome Prince, the tight-fitting slipper – the part of the Fairy Godmother is here switched for an enchanted physics textbook, and instead of good looks and magic, it’s interactive science experiments and some much-needed confidence that lead Cinderella to success. Presented in the form of a traditional pantomime, the show also introduces physics to children.

So your sister’s a nightmare, you’re not allowed to go to the Royal ball, and your fairy godmother is busy elsewhere? Maybe a textbook can help…

Science and sorcery collide as Cinderella and her dog Buttons attempt to make their own happy ending; they’ll need imagination, bravery, and to learn lots of physics very fast. Will they get to the party before midnight? Who will those sparkly slippers fit? Live experiments meet music, comedy and puppetry in Theatre of Science’s pantomime with a difference. Cinderella WILL go to the ball, but first, she’ll need a lot of volunteers… 

Company Founder, Artistic Director and star Lara Stafford won a Public Engagement Grant from the Institute of Physics (IOP) to deliver the project, which has enabled the York, Tang Hall and Northallerton performances to be free of charge. The actor-turned-physics-teacher is taking a career break to raise children, and was astounded to find that even in 2019, cars, trains and astronauts are absent from ‘girl’s’ clothing and toys, in favour of mythical creatures and taglines about believing in magic and dreams. This trend continues as children age; in England, only a fifth of post-16 physics students identify as female.  She decided to produce a show for children who hadn’t yet heard the word ‘physics’. 

“Writing-wise it’s been a difficult show to balance” Lara says. “I really wanted to shout “Spaceships and cars are for everyone! Obviously!” but realised early on that that’s not actually my aim. My aim is to show people who have already received the message that planets and vehicles aren’t for them, that physics is. It’s a mind-blowing subject that is all around us, and open to everyone. The IOP wrote a great report called Improving Gender Balance which basically said it’s just about chipping away at misconceptions. I want as many children as possible to hear the word physics and think, “Oh yes, like Cinderella.” It feels like a powerful ‘chip’!” 

To this end, Cinderella the Physicist is a portable show that will tour schools and small venues in the years to come.

Science communication company Theatre of Science uses storytelling sessions, shows and workshops to entertain adults and inspire children to pursue careers in STEM. The company launched in June 2019 with Photons and Phantoms: A Science Tour of York, which was delivered to over 300 adults and children as part of the York Festival of Ideas.

Cinderella the Physicist is designed for children aged 3-10 and their families; siblings of any age also welcome, ugly-on-the-inside or otherwise. Tickets are FREE due to funding from the Institute of Physics and must be booked in advance – book yours now here. Standbys subject to availability on the door.

7 December
Selby Library 10am
Tang Hall Library 1pm and 2:30pm
8 December
York Explore Library 1pm and 2:30pm
14 December
Northallerton Library 10:30am

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