Performance Schedule of ICSI (a pedagogic wordplay for two voices)





Feb. 19: Stanford University, Human Biology class.


Aug. 28: Bremen, “Edutainment” Conference organized by Stifterverlag für die Deutsche Wissenschaft.


Sept. 18: University of Alaska, freshman chemistry class.


Sept. 27: Michigan State University, Introd. Biology class.


Oct. 8: Münster Ratsgymnasium: German language premiere.


Oct. 10: Vienna Sperlgasse Gymnasium: Austrian premiere.




Feb. 20: Stanford University, Human Biology class.


March 20: Stockholm, Thoraxkliniken, Karolinska Hospital.


March 31: Grand Rapids, MI: Grand Valley State University biochemistry class.


May 6: Dundee, Scotland: Dundee Contemporary Arts Center.


May 9: Hanau, Germany: Annual "Steinheimer Gesprächen des Fonds für den Hochschullehrernachwuchs."


May 16: Dortmund: Käthe-Kollwitz Gymnasium.


May 19: Bielefeld: Gymnasium am Waldhof.


May 21: Giessen: (Wieseck Bürgerhaus): Gymnasium


June 7: Cheltenham, UK: Everyman’s Theatre at Cheltenham Festival of Science.


June 17: London: Nuffield Foundation “Science for Public Understanding” teachers conference, Friends’ Meeting House.


July 18: Stuttgart: Literaturhaus.


July 19: Munich: “50 Years DNA-Double Helix” celebration, Audimax of Technische Universität München, followed by panel discussion about reproductive medicine and stem cell research.


Sept. 10: Dundee: Dundee University with actors from Dundee Rep Ensemble.


Oct. 17: Erlangen: Marie-Therese-Gymnasium Erlangen.


Oct. 29: Cambridge: Christ’s College, Cambridge University as part of Lady Margaret lecture.


Dec. 19: Berlin: Student performance at SIEMENS (Berlin-Tegel) under Verein MINT-EC auspices.




March 23: Genoa: European Commission’s European Group on Life Sciences as part of workshop presentation “Modern Biology and the Visions of Man.”


June 4: Hay on Wye Book Festival as part of “Smuggling Science to the Page or Stage” presentation.


Aug. 25: Edinburgh: As part of Book Festival presentation (Studio Theatre) "FROM THE PILL TO ISAAC NEWTON."


Sept. 9: Pontypridd, Wales: As part of “Science on Stage: Sleeping Beauty or Kiss of Death?" lecture at “Theatres of Science: Crossovers and Confluences” Conference of University of Glamorgan.


Nov. 6: Genova: Entire wordplay in Italian at Festival della scienza di Genova.


Nov. 8:Vienna: Entire wordplay (in German) at University of Vienna in grosser Lesesaal der Universitätsbibliothek as part of Lieben Preis celebration.




March 11: Entire wordplay (in German) at 49th Symposium of German Society for Endocrinology, Münster.


May 5: Taiwanese adaptation for students of General Education Program Sun Yan-Sen University


June 3, 4: Taiwanese adaptation at Zhi-Shan Hall of Kaoshiung Culture Center .




March 23: Bremen: Two performances (11:00 and 14:00) of entire wordplay (in German) at Haus der Wissenschaft, Bremen.




March 18: New York City: Rockefeller University Science and Media series, 1:30 PM, Weiss 301.




Aug. 21: Buenos Aires: Performance (14:00) in auditorium of  Centro INTI-Biotecnología Industrial of “ICSI: Ciencia en el teatro translated and directed by  Ágata Baizán, produced by Alberto Diaz.


            FELIX FRANKENTHALER                Eduardo Pizzini

            ISABEL YOUNGBLOOD                   Hana Fleischmann


Aug. 30: Buenos Aires: Repeat performance in Aula Magna of Facultad de Ciencias Exactas (University of Buenos Aires) as part of the Bioethics in Science curriculum of Prof. Susana Sommer.


Nov. 11: Buenos Aires: Repeat performance in School of Psychology (University of Buenos Aires)


Nov. 18: Mar Del Plata, Argentina: Repeat performance at opening of VIII Meeting of Biotechnology REDBIO 2013 (Gran Hotel Provinical).

Science theatre in the classroom:




(Sex in an Age of Mechanical Reproduction)


A pedagogic wordplay for two voices with audiovisuals


By Carl Djerassi



Pedagogic Function


In an attempt to move away from the standard monologist lecture format in science, I have written a dialogic wordplay primarily for classroom use in lieu of a conventional 50-minute lecture. It is envisaged as a staged reading of a simulated TV interview by two persons using audiovisuals. Its main theme is one of the most contentious issues in contemporary reproductive biology: the impending separation of sex (“in bed”) and fertilization (“under the microscope”). Its theatrical counterpart is my play “AN IMMACULATE MISCONCEPTION” which has already been translated into German, French, Spanish, Swedish, Japanese, Bulgarian and Czech and broadcast by the BBC World Service as well as the German and Swedish Radio Corporations.


One of the purposes of this wordplay is to stimulate active debate by the audience around the ethical issues created by the proposition that in the future, fertile couples will start to use the techniques of assisted reproduction for having children. In classroom settings, it would be preferable if the roles of the two characters were read by student volunteers rather than the teacher/lecturer and other adult. Ideally, the teacher’s function should be minimal and focus on facilitating the subsequent discussion


Program Note


Sex in an Age of Mechanical Reproduction


 “The technique of reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the domain of tradition.”

(From Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in an Age of Mechanical Reproduction, 1936)



Impregnation of a woman’s egg by a fertile man in normal intercourse requires tens of millions of sperm—on the order of 100 million in one ejaculate. Successful fertilization with one single sperm is a total impossibility, considering that a man ejaculating even 1 - 3 million sperm is functionally infertile. But in 1992, Gianpiero Palermo, Hubert Joris, Paul Devroey, and André C. Van Steirteghem from the University of Brussels published their sensational paper in Lancet, 340, 17 (1992), in which they announced the successful fertilization of a human egg with a single sperm by direct injection under the microscope, followed by reinsertion of the egg into the woman’s uterus. ICSI—the accepted acronym for “intracytoplasmic sperm injection”—has now become the most powerful tool for the treatment of male infertility: somewhere between 50,000 – 100,000 ICSI babies have already been born since 1992.


This is the factual background of ICSI. But because this pedagogic experiment is presented as a wordplay, the two characters, though not the actual science, are fictional—especially Dr. Melanie Laidlaw, ICSI’s putative inventor. ICSI’s ethical problems, however, remain even after the last word has been spoken.


Cast of Characters


Dr. FELIX FRANKENTHALER: American clinician and infertility specialist.


ISABEL YOUNGBLOOD: Host of TV “Dissection”; young, smart and not too subtle critic of science and technology; preferably stylishly dressed in pantsuit.


Time: Friday, the thirteenth.




TV Studio of weekly “issues” program entitled “Dissection”; equipped with two chairs, perhaps low table, and big screen on rear wall.


Sample Pages:

Slideshow and movie require quicktime 6 which can be downloaded here