794   Insight talk

Science, theatre and diversity: the performing arts as a strategy for female empowerment

Author: Carla Almeida
Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Brazil

As the field of science communication matures and undergoes important transformations, practitioners and scholars increasingly recognize the importance of discussing issues related to diversity and power, and understanding how forces such as gender, race, and class affect the area. Aware of this, and in honour of Marielle Franco, a black sociologist, politician, feminist and human rights supporter in Brazil murdered in March 2018, the Museum of Life set up the play "Cidadela", about a fictional city where women literally have no voice; they can only speak when men are away. With four black protagonists, one being trans, the play goes beyond the debate about women in science to stimulate reflections on gender and racial bias.

At the PCST conference, we will share different aspects of the play, showing what it looks like and how the audience engages with it. Based on an audience study conducted with the spectators of the play at the museum, we observed a strong identification in girls and women with some of the characters, especially with those who have a more determined attitude against customs and traditions. For much of the audience, the main message is that women should be free, above all, to think, speak and be whatever they want. In this sense, "Cidadela" works as a reinforcement of female empowerment and as a critique of chauvinistic society. The Museum of Life is a science centre of a major health research institution in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which mainly serves elementary and high school students from vulnerable contexts, with low cultural and science capital.

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