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SPARC Theater celebrates the art of science with series of play readings

The plays were chosen by a committee made up of  SPARC patrons, local scientists and science enthusiasts and all share the theme of science and discovery, while also telling profound human stories.


SPARC Theater’s social justice initiative, Science@Play will celebrate the connection between art and science with a series of play readings this November.

The plays were chosen by a committee made up of  SPARC patrons, local scientists and science enthusiasts and all share the theme of science and discovery, while also telling profound human stories.

Science@Play highlights the work of two Latina playwrights: Marisela Treviño Orta (Heart Shaped Nebula) and Diana Burbano, whose play Sapience will kick off the series, and whose new play, Flatten the Curve, commissioned for Science@Play, will close out the reading series.

“It’s been a phenomenal challenge to work on this science-based commission” states Burbano. “The most interesting process has been interviewing scientists and interrogating them about their fields of expertise.  This work informed the action of the play and led me to create scenes and situations that aligned with the information I had learned. It was a new and exciting way to write a play.”

Sapience follows the story of Elsa, a highly accomplished, neurodiverse primatologist.  The play explores the many ways we communicate as humans, and how that translates to Elsa’s life’s work attempting to communicate with an orangutan named “Wookie.” With Elsa’s discoveries come challenges to her previously held worldview in this heartwarming and thought-provoking play by stage, film, and TV actor and award-winning playwright Diana Burbano, whose plays have been produced in both English and Spanish all over the world.

Mary Ann Rodgers, familiar to SPARC audiences for her work directing The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)[Revised] in 2019 at Wente Vineyards, will direct the reading of Sapience.

The second play in the series is Heart Shaped Nebula by the award-winning and widely produced third-generation Mexican-American playwright and poet Marisela Treviño Orta. Heart Shaped Nebula is a love story set against a dark night sky bursting with the anticipation of a meteor shower.

Through magical realism, the story explores how particulate matter behaves, shedding light on our understanding of love, time, and space. The reading will be directed by Founding Artistic Director Lisa A. Tromovitch. 

SPARC’s original play commission for Science@Play, Flatten the Curve is by Diana Burbano, a Colombian immigrant, celebrated playwright, Equity actor, and teaching artist at South Coast Repertory and Breath of Fire Latina Theatre Ensemble. Flatten the Curve follows a diverse team of scientists working together to solve our current global crisis.

Burbano consulted with several local scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Lab while researching and writing the commissioned work. Michael Wayne Rice, SPARC Resident Director, will direct the world premiere reading. Burbano, Rice, and SPARC Founder Lisa A. Tromovitch and a team of local scientists have been working together for over a year to create this original piece that takes us inside the world and lives of those at the forefront of solving life’s biggest mysteries.

Science@Play will begin with Sapience on November 5th, 6th and 7th. Heart Shaped Nebula will run November 12th, 13th and 14th. Flatten the Curve runs November 19th, 20th and 21st. All performances will be held at SPARC Studio, 2172 Railroad Avenue, Livermore.

Proof of Vaccination and ID will be required upon entry to LIVE performance. Photos of vaccination cards on a mobile phone are acceptable. Masks are required inside the performance facility.

Tickets are $25 for the live Performance or the recorded program. Recorded program will be available for purchase for a limited time. For more information and to purchase tickets visit or call (925) 443-BARD.