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Science on Stage illustrative graphic

Science on Stage

Monday, Oct. 30
Staller Theatre Two

An uncommon application of science communication, welcome to a show that transforms cutting-edge research into theater. We hope these 3 one-act plays and the resulting panel discussion to bring together artists, experts and the rest of us in a fascinating and valuable transdisciplinary conversation. 

Carl Lejuez headshot

I am regularly in awe of the creative interdisciplinary collaborations that our resesarchers and scholars pursue at Stony Brook. 

This project is a great example, bringing together artists and scientists to put a spotlight on Stony Brook's innovation and discovery in the most literal sense. 

I am glad to see this project continue in-person and pleased to support this project through the CASSH seed grants.

Carl Lejuez
Provost and Executive Vice President
Stony Brook University

The Penguin Play 

by Michele Lowe

Michele Lowe is an award-winning playwright whose work has been translated and produced around the world.  Upcoming: world premiere of MOSES at Theater J, in Washington, DC. Broadway: The Smell of the Kill; Off Broadway: String of Pearls (Outer Critics nom for best play. Awards: Francesca Primus Prize and two Edgerton New Play Awards. Finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and a double finalist for the American Theater Critics Association/Steinberg New Play Award. Michele conceived and wrote the book for Split, with music and lyrics by Zoe Sarnak, commissioned by Transport Group. She is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Michele lives in New York and coaches writers and rabbis across the country.

Directed by Jackson Gay

Performed by:

April Matthis as Henny Schwartz

Robert Emmet Lunney as Paul Bass

About the Actors

Stony Brook Scientist:

Heather J. Lynch is the Institute for Advanced Computational Science Endowed Chair for Ecology & Evolution at Stony Brook University. Her research is dedicated to Antarctic wildlife ecology and conservation, with a particular focus on Antarctic penguins. Her lab spends up to four months a year working in the Antarctic, primarily on Antarctic passenger cruise vessels, and she works closely with the cruise industry and Antarctic policymakers on issues relating to climate change and sustainable tourism.


by Rogelio Martinez

Martinez is a Guggenheim award-winning playwright whose work has been produced, workshopped, and commissioned by theaters across the United States including the Public Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Repertory, Atlantic Theater Company, Arden Theater, Asolo Repertory, TheaterWorks, Ojai Theater Company, South Coast Repertory, and others. He is a co-producer on the TV show Billion Dollar Whale, created by David Henry Hwang and Anchuli Felicia King, based on the book by Tom Wright & Bradley Hope. Martinez has written for children's television on Nickelodeon and worked on a 2021 television project for Tom Fontana based on the book Year of Dangerous Days. Syracuse Stage commissioned Martinez to write a new play. The National Pastime deals with both the Houston Astros cheating scandal and Havana Syndrome. The play will be part of Syracuse Stage's 24-25 season.

Directed by Jackson Gay

Performed by:

Dan Domingues as Jake

April Matthis as Kim

Sam Morales as Person in Chair

Johnny M. Wu as Mario

About the Actors

Stony Brook Scientist

Suparna Rajaram is SUNY Distinguished Professor at Stony Brook University in the Cognitive Science program at the Department of Psychology. She studies the nature of human memory, with a focus on social memory. Using experiments, surveys, and computational analyses, her group explores social transmission of memory in groups, the overpowering impact of social media on memory, and how conversational recall both improves and distorts our memories, together revealing how people settle on a collective narrative for events from their past.

Prometheus, or The Modern Frankenstein

by Greg Kotis

Greg Kotis is the author of many plays and musicals including Urinetown (Book/Lyrics, for which he won an Obie Award and two Tony® Awards), The End of All FleshI Am NobodyLunchtimeZMGive the People What They WantMichael von Siebenburg Melts Through the FloorboardsYeast Nation (Book/Lyrics), The Truth About SantaPig FarmEat the Taste, and Jobey and Katherine. Greg is a member of ASCAP and The Dramatists Guild, and is a co-founder of Theater of the Apes.

Directed by Jackson Gay

Performed By:

Robert Emmet Lunney as Creature

April Matthis as A Contemporary Scientist

Sam Morales as Elizabeth Frankenstein

Johnny M. Wu as Victor Frankenstein

Dan Domingues as Geoffery Hinton

About the Actors

Stony Brook Scientist:

Nilanjan Chakraborty is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stony Brook University. His research interests are in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence. His research is guided by the principle that interaction is key to intelligence. Consequently, his research group develops approaches to endow robots with capabilities to (a) interact with its environment by physically manipulating objects in the environment (b) interact with each other and humans to accomplish a goal. He hopes to develop robots that can work with human caregivers to help elderly people as well as people with motor disabilities live independently.

Director: Jackson Gay

Jackson's recent work: Natural History by Collin Van Son (2023 O’Neill Festival); Christina Anderson's the ripple, the wave that carried me home (world premiere co-production Berkeley Rep and Goodman Theatre); Endless Loop of Gratitude with New Neighborhood (New Ohio's Ice Factory); Lucy Thurber's Transfers for Audible, MCC, and New York Stage & Film; These Paper Bullets! by Rolin Jones with music by Billie Joe Armstrong (New Neighborhood, Atlantic, Geffen, Yale Rep). Upcoming: Workshop of The Yellow Wallpaper 2.0 2020 by Jennifer Maisel (Lucille Lortel); Into the Breeches by George Brant (Gulfshore Playhouse); the new musical Hard Road (book by Willy Holtzman, music by Marty Dodson and David Spangler). MFA Directing Yale School of Drama.


Meet the Actors




Dan Domingues (Jake in Echo, Geoffery Hinton in Prometheus) most recently appeared in Tales from the Gutenberg Bible with 80’s and 90’s movie star Steve Guttenberg at George Street Playhouse and Bay Street Theater.  In New York Dan has worked at New World Stages in A Sherlock Carol, The Public Theater (The Tempest, Wild Goose Dreams, Fidelis, The Great Immensity), 59E59, Rattlestick, Abingdon, BAM, INTAR, Atlantic, Cherry Lane. Regional work includes leading roles at Barrington Stage, the Alley Theatre, Arena Stage, the Guthrie, the Goodman, New York Stage & Film, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Pioneer Theatre, Long Wharf, and Portland Stage.  Film & TV includes Zoo, Run All Night, Future 38, In Stereo, “New Amsterdam,” “West 40s,” “Blacklist,” “Royal Pains,” and “Law & Order.” Dan holds an MFA from the A.R.T. Institute at Harvard, is an associate artist with The Civilians and co-host of the movie podcast Hot Date.

April Matthis (Henny in The Penguin Play, Kim in Echo, Contemporary Scientist in Prometheus) is an Obie Award-winning actor. Broadway: August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson. Off-Broadway: Primary Trust, Toni Stone (Roundabout), Help (The Shed); Fairview, LEAR (Soho Rep); Signature Plays—Funnyhouse of a Negro (Signature Theatre); IOWA, Antlia Pneumatica (Playwrights Horizons). With Elevator Repair Service: Baldwin/Buckley at Cambridge (Festival d’Avignon), The Sound & the Fury; Fondly, Collette Richland (NYTW); Measure for Measure (The Public); Everyone’s Fine with Virginia Woolf (Abrons Art Center); GATZ (Perth Festival). TV/Film Credits include: Life & Beth (Hulu), “The Blacklist” (NBC),  “Evil”, “The Good Fight” (Paramount Plus), “New Amsterdam” (NBC), Black Card, Fugitive Dreams, Ramona at Midlife.

Sam Morales (Person in Chair in Echo, Elizabeth in Prometheus) is NYC-based & is a proud member of both AEA & SAG-AFTRA. Off-Broadway: Medea (starring Rose Byrne & Bobby Cannavale, BAM); The Tempest (The Public); Pericles (dir. Trevor Nunn), The Skin of Our Teeth, Measure for Measure (TFANA); The Courage to Right A Woman's Wrongs, Paradise Lost, Volpone (Red Bull Theater). Regional: The Mousetrap (Hartford Stage); The House on the Hill (World Premiere, CATF); Woman in Mind (Delaware REP); TeachLast Night in Inwood (Gulfshore Playhouse). Television: Dead Ringers starring Rachel Weisz; Law & Order: SVUFBIBlue Bloods. She's represented by DGRW. Sam is also on faculty at AMDA & NYU where she teaches Acting for TV/Film among other classes. @_sam_morales_ |

Robert Emmet Lunney (Paul in The Penguin Play, Monster in Prometheus) is and actor and playwright) Broadway highlights: A Delicate BalanceDancing at Lughnasa, Born YesterdayThe Graduate, and Mauritius. Off Broadway and Regional: Howard Barker's Gary; The Thief (World Premier/PTP/NYC); Mr. Barker's Victory (PTP/NYC); Pinter’s The HomecomingTo Kill A Mockingbird (Ford's Theater/D.C.); Ira Levin’s Deathtrap; and Tony Kushner's Angels In America. Television: Fox’s The Exorcist (iHorror Award nominee: Best Actor), WeCrashed (Apple TV+), Boardwalk Empire (HBO), The BlacklistBlindspot, Elementary, and Law & Order. Robert is a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre’s Playwrights Unit. His writing includes Famous Blue RaincoatFor NinaAn Occurrence at Yankee StadiumCannon Beach, and When You Wake (screenplay).

Johnny M. Wu (Mario in Echo, Victor in Prometheus) recently finished a run of The Headlands at A.C.T. In the theater, Johnny has worked on Broadway, at Lincoln Center Theater, Guthrie Theater, Goodman Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, A.C.T. and Berkeley Rep. Johnny is currently filming Marvel's Daredevil: Born Again for Disney+. He has recurred on Chicago Med, The Good Wife, Law and Order: SVU, and 24 and has guest starred on The Other Two, Manifest, New Amsterdam, High Maintenance, The Code, Blue Bloods, Kevin Can Wait, Covert Affairs, Person of Interest, and Cold Case. Films include A Journal for Jordan (dir. Denzel Washington), Tracers, Hold Fast Good Luck, Limitless. Johnny earned his MFA from UC San Diego and is on faculty at Yale School of Drama.


Panel Discussion featuring Playwrights and Scientists

Ken Weitzman


Principal Investigator
Program Originator
Associate Professor, Department of English

Ken is a playwright and educator whose work has been produced and developed at theatres across the country and internationally. Ken’s most recent productions include his solo play, Fire in the Garden (starring Sean Astin).  Previous productions include, among others, Halftime with Don (National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere), The Catch (The Denver Center Theatre Company), The As If Body Loop  (Humana Festival of New American Plays), seal boy (American Academy of Dramatic Arts), Arrangements  (Atlantic Theatre Company, Weissberger Award). His ensemble-created work includes Hominid, based on the work of primatologist Frans de Waal (Out of Hand Theatre/Theatre Emory/Oerol Festival Netherlands).  Ken is a faculty member here at Stony Brook in the English Department and is affiliated with Theatre Arts, Writing and Rhetoric, and the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science.  Ken conceived of and first produced Science on Stage in 2020, and was one of the three playwrights, collaborating with SBU researcher, Alexander Orlov.

J.D. Allen


News Director, WSHU Public Radio
Instructor, School of Communication & Journalism

J.D. is an adjunct instructor at the School of Communication and Journalism and the managing editor of WSHU, a Long Island NPR affiliate station.

J.D. won an Eric and Wendy Schmidt Excellence in Science Communication Award from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine for the first season of his WSHU-produced podcast, Higher Ground. The award was in the Best Science Reporting in the Local/Regional Level category. Formerly WAMC's Berkshire bureau chief, J.D. has reported for public radio stations, including bylines with WSHU, WNYC, WBUR, WNPR and NPR. J.D. has reported on healthcare and small businesses for "Long Island Business News" and real estate and land-use for The Express News Group newspapers. He holds a B.A. in journalism and sociology from Stony Brook and an M.S. in communications from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University.

Program Support

With gratitude to our sponsors & partners 

This evening's performance is funded by the Stony Brook Office of the Provost through a Provostial SEED Grant for Interdisciplinary Work Creative Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities (CASSH). We are deeply grateful for the support.

We are also grateful for our partners:


Special Thanks to:

  • Carl Lejuez and the Office of the Provost staff
  • Laura Lindenfeld, executive director of the Alda Center for Communicating Science and dean of the School of Communication and Journalism, and the Alda Center team
  • Margaret Hanley and the English Department 
  • Phil Altiere, production supervisor, School of Communication and Journalism
  • Dave Barnett, Theatre Arts technical director
  • Timothy Giorlando, mass communication student
  • Tim Hautle, Staller Center house/building manager
  • Will Montolio, Staller Center
  • Lisa Pfeiffer, administrative assistant, Alda Center and School of Communication and Journalism


CASSH Seed Grant Co-Principal Investigators:

  • Nicole Leavey, associate director of strategic partnerships, Alda Center for Communicating Science
  • Alexander Orlov, professor of materials science and engineering, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences


Science on Stage 2020 Participants:


  • Ken Weitzman
  • Deborah Zoe Laufer
  • Nathan Alan Davis


  • Alexander Orlov, professor of materials science and engineering, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences
  • Clare Whitney, assistant professor of nursing, School of Nursing
  • H. Andrew Schwartz, associate professor of computer science, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences