It wasn’t long ago that we were invited to preview the captivating first act of Blue Butterfly; a full length play production fusing together science and creative production in order to bring forth cogent questions of the mind and belief and scientific process amongst a chaotic and dysfunctional world.

Filled with talented actors who are also successful scientist in their own right, Blue Butterfly tells a compelling and artistic story that not only students and scholars will relate to, but also all dreamers who are intrinsically driven. Combining both outstanding writing and innovative directing, we were completely absorbed from the opening–exposed to the chaotic and all-consuming thoughts of a scientist, the acting was raw, the emotions vulnerable, leaving us feeling refreshed by the truths uncovered during such a short scene.

We decided to ask both the producer and the director to shed some light on the production:

Producer and founder of The Catalyst Theater Company, Dr. Adria LE BOEUF, Ph.D.
What is the concept/inspiration behind Blue Butterfly? How did it come to be?
When I started The Catalyst, one of my goals was to create new media about science – by scientists and for the public. In our first few shows we were just getting started, we were very low budget, and didn’t really have access to theater professionals. I am absolutely thrilled that the Swiss National Science Foundation saw the beauty of our plans, and funded Kyle and my Agora grant proposal to collaborate with theater professionals and to create the piece that eventually became Blue Butterfly. 
Once we found out we could hire pros, and then we found Ailin and Richard, we were extremely excited to get started but the content of what the play would be about still wasn’t set–it would be vaguely about current research! Our first content meeting was back in June 2014. Ailin, Kyle, Richard and I met up in Lausanne and strolled and discussed and argued and finally rejoiced because eventually we found a compelling juxtaposition of interesting, new, science and a powerful human story. This is what became Blue Butterfly. Over a few weeks later on in the summer, and along with about 10 other scientist-actors, we explored the story, the concepts, and fleshed out the details through improvisation and scientific discussions. It was an amazing experience! 
In what ways do you hope to connect with your audience? What do you hope this play accomplishes?
I hope people will see the beauty of these scientific concepts! What we’ll give our audiences are these concepts in broad strokes, and if they want to know more, we’ll give them references 🙂
The piece is also a moving reflection on science communication itself: what are the limitations? what do we want to know, and what don’t we want to know? When is sexing up the science necessary and when is it harmful? 
Lastly, the piece is also about a family in distress, and there are many way this family situation can be viewed. What do we want to believe about reality? Who do we want to blame when something goes wrong? 

Who are the participants? Why scientists?
The participants are a great mix of scientists, science communicators and theater pros! On stage you have all scientists & science communicators. Off stage, on the director, technology and design team, you have some amazing theatre professionals who happen to love science.

Why scientists as actors? Two reasons: 1. For some of the actors to understand their lines in this play it’s great if they understand the science behind what they are saying! In order to effectively communicate science, you need to understand it, otherwise it’s a bunch of empty words.  2. One of The Catalyst’s messages is that scientists are human too. The public to seeing these scientist-actors helps convey that message. 

Director, founder of Theatre Témoin in London: Ailin CONANT

What is the concept/inspiration behind Blue Butterfly? How did it come to be?
The narrative for Blue Butterfly was constructed over 2 week-long scripting and devising sessions with a group of Artists and PhD scientists from the fields of biology, physics, and computer science.  You could probably call the story an “emergent property” of the diversity of ideas and interests of the devising group.  But check the semantics with a scientist before quoting me on that.*

*(scientists’ note to the editor: yes, that’s accurate! – Kyle)

 In what ways do you hope to connect with your audience? And/Or what do you hope this play accomplishes?
I personally hope people walk away from the story feeling something bigger and more complex than they would from reading an academic paper on microbiology or watching a traditional play with a narrative based mostly on relationships.  We’ve all seen plays that highlight our relationship with one another, and there are some plays that highlight our relationship to grand ideas and ideals.  But we are equally in relationship with our curiosity; our complex discoveries about the physical world we live in, and this can often go neglected because the information is so specialised that exploring its edges is not something most artists are equipped to do, just in terms of having the access to the knowledge.  By creating a play with artist-scientists, we have been able to create a sort of anthem to the incredible mysteries and discoveries of our physical world, and how our relationship to science and discovery can weave into and affect our relationship to everything and everyone else.

Intrigued? Well we are giving away TWO PAIRS of tickets for the Sunday May 10th performance at 19h. If you want to win, just leave us a comment about the most compelling theater performance you have seen. We will randomly select a winner and announce tomorrow. Good luck!

Tickets are selling out fast, so make sure to reserve yours for either Geneva or Lausanne soon!

Useful information:

ONLINE: | | @CatalystTheater | #BlueButterflyPlay 

Adria at | +41 78 645 1900

GENEVA• 29 Apr – 2 May: Théâtre Pitoëff (rue de Carouge 52 | 1205 Genève) Wed – Fri 20h; Sat 17h | 30 CHF / 20 CHF | 
Post-show Q&A with actor-scientists – Saturday May 2

LAUSANNE• 8 – 10 May: Théâtre la Grange de Dorigny (Université de Lausanne | Quartier Centre |1015 Lausanne) Fri – Sat 20h; Sun 17h | 20 CHF / 10 CHF |
Post-show Q&A with actor-scientists – Sunday May 10 


  1. this is so great! maybe it is cliche but i saw the phantom of the opera in london and it was incredibly well-done and compelling!

  2. It looks great, it would be nice to win the tickets! Personally I loved The Vagina Monologues seen last year in Lausanne.

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