First Light Festival 2024: A Celebration of Science and Technology in Theater - AmNews Curtain Raiser


Wednesday, March 13, 2024

First Light Festival 2024: A Celebration of Science and Technology in Theater

Sandra Daley-Sharif (Courtesy Photo)


First Light Festival 2024: 

A Celebration of Science and Technology in Theater

Ensemble Studio Theatre, under the guidance of Co-Artistic Directors Estefanía Fadul and Graeme Gillis, in collaboration with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation led by Vice President and Program Director Doron Weber, proudly unveils the much-anticipated lineup for the 2024 First Light Festival. This festival, an integral part of the EST/Sloan Project, is dedicated to nurturing the development of plays that delve into the realms of science and technology, offering audiences a glimpse into the future of theater.

Scheduled to run from April 25 to June 13, the First Light Festival will feature a captivating array of works-in-progress by visionary playwrights. Eight groundbreaking productions are slated for presentation, showcasing the ingenuity and creativity of the playwrights selected for this prestigious event.

Among the highlights of this year’s festival are:

Binding Energy by Jacob Marx Rice (Thursday, April 25 at 3:00 pm):

This compelling drama follows the journey of four high school students trapped in a study group, where the challenges they face extend far beyond the confines of academia. Rice's work promises to explore the tumultuous emotional landscape of adolescence while touching on themes of resilience and survival.

Orva and Nadine by Jacquelyn Reingold (Thursday, May 16 at 3:00 pm):

Reingold invites audiences into a world where fear takes center stage, as an unlikely encounter between a fearless woman and a neuroscientist studying fear leads to a profound exploration of courage and friendship. Expect a thought-provoking narrative that delves into the complexities of the human psyche.

Disrupted by Melisa Tien (Thursday, May 23 at 3:00 pm):

In a male-dominated tech industry, Tien sheds light on the experiences of two women navigating uncharted territory as they embark on a journey to develop a revolutionary app. This play promises to challenge stereotypes and celebrate the resilience of female entrepreneurs in the face of adversity.

Amma's Wit by Sandra A. Daley-Sharif (Thursday, June 6 at 3:00 pm):

Daley-Sharif pays homage to the unsung heroes of midwifery in this heartfelt tribute to "Granny" midwives. Through her poignant storytelling, she brings to life the wisdom and compassion of these remarkable women, offering a glimpse into a world where resilience and tradition intersect.

Apple Bottom by Karina Billini (Thursday, June 13 at 3:00 pm):

Billini invites audiences into the world of post-BBL recovery at the Apple Bottom Spa, where a chance encounter between two vastly different women sets the stage for a captivating exploration of identity and self-discovery.

BIGFOOT by Meghan Endres Brown (Monday, June 17 at 3:00 pm):

Brown takes audiences on a darkly humorous journey into the world of sibling rivalry, quantum physics, and the power of storytelling. Prepare for an exhilarating ride filled with suspense and intrigue.

In addition to these public readings, the festival will feature two closed readings for internal development, providing playwrights with a valuable opportunity to refine their work in a collaborative environment.

Since its inception in 1998, the EST/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science & Technology Project has been at the forefront of fostering innovation in theater, commissioning over 300 plays that challenge and expand our understanding of science and technology. The First Light Festival serves as a testament to the project's ongoing commitment to pushing the boundaries of theatrical storytelling.

Audiences are invited to reserve their seats for these thought-provoking presentations, which will be held at Ensemble Studio Theatre located at 545 W. 52nd St., 2nd Floor. Admission to all First Light Festival events is free, but reservations are required and can be made at

For more information about the EST/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science & Technology Project, visit or follow @SloanPublic on Twitter and Facebook.

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