How can a theatre performance on science be enthusiastically attended by about 900 physicists and non-physicists? How can an entire audience, with different cultural backgrounds, experience a lovely full immersion in the world of physics? On 23 September 2014, at the Teatro Verdi in Pisa, the Società Italiana di Fisica [SIF] presented a performance on Galileo Galilei titled “Io Dico l’Universo – Letture Galileiane”.
The piece was a magic mix of readings, renaissance songs, pictures and short clips. A sample of Galilei’s scientific texts were marvelously read by the famous Italian actor, Giulio Scarpati, whose warm interpretation revealed and enhanced the beauty of Galilei’s scientific language. Selected texts illustrated Galilei’s greatest discoveries, such as new satellites, the experimental method, pendulum properties, the inertial principle, relativity. The genius of Galilei, through his discoveries and breakthroughs, was better appreciated thanks to the comments read by Alessandro Bettini, who wrote the texts in cooperation with Carlo Dionisi. Readings were accompanied by the music of Galilei’s father Vincentio and brother Michelangelo, charmingly played by Pier Luigi Polato and Paolo Tognon with the ancient instruments “liuto”, “arciliuto” and “dulciana”. Under the direction of Lorenzo Mucci, pictures and videoclips ran in parallel with readings and music, plunging the theatre into a XVII century atmosphere.
“It was a big challenge to communicate to the audience Galilei’s giant steps forward in physics and astronomy in the most rigorous, direct, efficient but at the same time pleasant and lively way,” said SIF President Luisa Cifarelli. “Indeed science was on stage at Teatro Verdi, which turned out to be a tremendous success.”
The piece was organized by SIF to properly celebrate its 100th national meeting with a prestigious cultural event, open to the town of Pisa. Indeed, Pisa is the place where Italian scientists met for the first time in 1839 and where the scientific journal Nuovo Cimento was born. Now in Pisa research in physics and related technologies is carried out at the top level in three Universities (Università di Pisa, Scuola Normale Superiore, Scuola Superiore S. Anna) as well as in prestigious research institutes (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare, Istituto Nazionale di Fisica e Vulcanologia).
The success of the theatre performance encourages us to go on communicating physics to a larger and larger public, making scientific culture grow in society.