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Spring play brings science, theatre departments together in Oxygen

Manchester College students will “discover” oxygen on stage in an unusual time-travel play that makes its Indiana debut May 4-6. Oxygen, written by chemists Carl Djerassi and Roald Hoffmann, brings together Manchester’s theatre and chemistry programs as the cast recreates some of the original experiments that led to the discovery of oxygen.

“I had several reasons for choosing this play,” said MC Theatre Director Scott K. Strode, professor of communication studies. “Faculty in our science division had read about Oxygen in a science journal. And I have always been interested in plays that contain aspects of the sciences in significant ways. This play also is fitting considering the opening of our Science Center last fall.”

What is discovery? Why is it so important to be first? These are just two of the questions that trouble the characters in Oxygen, which runs at 7:30 p.m. each night, Thursday through Saturday, May 4-6, in Wampler Auditorium. Tickets are $7; $6 for senior citizens and non-MC students. Tickets are available at the door or by calling 982-5551.

The Oxygen timeline alternates between the 1770s and 2001, when the fictional Chemistry Nobel Prize Committee of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences decides to commemorate the 100th year of the award with the “Retro-Nobel Prize” for those great discoveries that preceded the Nobel Prize. The Nobel Committee focuses on the 1770s discovery of oxygen, which launched the modern chemical revolution.

Some of the experiments that took place in the original discovery of oxygen are recreated on stage.  “I’m preparing the chemistry experiments and related props for the play,” said Dr. Terese Salupo-Bryant, associate professor of chemistry. In addition, Dr. Susan Klein, associate professor of chemistry, and the Manchester College student affiliate of the American Chemical Society will underwrite one of the performances.

Oxygen actors are: seniors Erin Gropp of Hudson, Steve Grubb of Goshen, Rachel McFadden and Brad Vah of North Manchester, and Myra Martin-Adkins of Washington, D.C.; junior Nick Kauffman of Goshen; sophomore Aaron Hostetler of Bremen; and first-year students Jeff Combs of Wabash, Kacie Gauby, David Moan of Goshen and Tedra Tague of New Market. 


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