652   Insight talk

Science in silence: breaking language and cultural barriers using science theatre

Author: Shanii Phillips
University of Western Australia, Australia

Theatre is a powerful medium to share ideas, promote change and bring communities together, and science theatre is no exception. Science shows are traditionally performed using a combination of demonstrations and explanations, using the spoken word to communicate scientific themes with the audience. They are usually performed to audiences who speak the same language and are from a similar cultural background. We (two science communicators, working at a science centre in Australia) toured an innovative science show to the Beijing Science Festival in 2019. To overcome language barriers, we presented the show without speech, performing a series of demonstrations exploring the properties of liquid nitrogen choreographed to music. Through modelling behaviour on stage of our own cultural values of science, including fun and curiosity, as well as the scientific process we were able to share our ideas despite potential language and cultural barriers, with many audience members engaging with us after each show. By continuing to push the boundaries of what we define as science communication, we can continue to construct new ways to craft connections, create meaning and share ideas with wider audiences.

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