Scientific Theater

The Perfect Pairing

Science is a quest for truth which is why I believe there’s a natural connection between academics and the arts. Through theater, we can transform complex topics by exploring the human stories behind brilliant scientific minds.

QED by Peter Parnell, Chicago, IL

qed“Ideally directed by Maureen Payne-Hahner. Wildly thought provoking experience. QED, a mostly one man show featuring a tour de force performance by Rob Riley.
Highly Recommended.” – Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun Times

“A Must See Show. QED is a reminder that the most compelling drama is the one that takes place inside an individual’s mind.” Centerstage Show Review

“QED is a most engaging glimpse into the psyche of a genius. Catch it yourself. Recommended.” – Tom Williams, Chicago Critic

Project Description: QED profiles physics Noble prize winner, Richard Feynman, who had a gift for simplifying science. I was attracted to the project because I have a long time fascination for both the man and his contributions to science. True to my minimalist style, the set was simple so the performance, especially given the content, had to be exceptional. While challenging, the reviews demonstrated we made science engaging to the masses – an extraordinary feat and testament to great acting as well as set design.

The How and the Why by Sarah Treem, Chicago, IL

howwhy“Maureen Payne-Hahner knows how to plunge the audience into the real drama of science as a human endeavor…with all its delicacy and beauty, with all its tumult and raw emotion. Audiences are captivated by the simple, pure, honest moments that lay bare the humanity of the characters whose distilled scientific legacy represents a mere fraction of the story.” – Matthew Grayson, ETOPiA Founder

Project Description: The Engineering Trans Disciplinary Outreach Project in the Arts (ETOPiA), based at the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University in Chicago, uses a cross discipline approach. It’s founder, Dr. Matthew Grayson, serves as a source of inspiration to me. He encourages artists to meld science and the arts. Through ETOPiA, I have been fortunate to direct stories rooted in science.

My approach to the play was simple – human first, science second. We focused on the characters and utilized a female cast. The playwright, Sarah Treem, challenges the audience to consider women in science. Together, we strived to captivate the audience and transform academic content in a way that would both educate and entertain. This was my fourth production with ETOPiA.





Munich, Germany
Vienna, Austria
Zagreb, Croatia

Project Description:
Copenhagen premiered May 2, 2006, at the Technical University Munich, Germany. Its unique artistic conception involves bringing live theater to a technical lecture hall to explore the humanistic aspect of the scientific characters in the very setting where these characters made their livelihood. Each staging has been adapted to the specific performance space and makes use of the blackboards, projectors, desks, chairs, stairways, and doors – making the play organic to its location. Since its premiere at the Technical University Munich, this production has been performed at the Technical University Vienna, Austria, and the University of Zagreb, Croatia.

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