Thaddeus Phillips, “Worldwide Communication Systems, Suboceanic Fiber Optics, and Humpback Whale Songs”

Science on Tap

Science on Tap is a monthly gathering that features a brief, informal presentation by a scientist or other expert followed by lively conversation.

In this presentation we met innovative theater director Thaddeus Phillips as he introduced WHaLE OPTICS, a new scientific/theatrical/musical epic that explored worldwide communication systems, suboceanic fiber optics, and humpback whale songs. Phillips discussed the creation of this three-part large-scale work, which premiered during the 2011 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival. 

The project aimed to call into question our perception of human/animal communication and our relationship with the biggest part of planet Earth—the ocean.

After the presentation Phillips took questions on incorporating science into theater, the interchange between ideas and drama, and why there will be a vital scene set in a New Jersey Applebee’s.

Thaddeus Phillips is a Philadelphia-based director, performer, and set designer whose work has been presented around the world, including at New York Theatre Workshop and La MaMa E.T.C. (New York City), Festival de Otoño (Madrid), Traverse Theater (Edinburgh), Arcola Theatre & Battersea Arts Center (London), and the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival. 

His works include 17 BORDER CROSSINGS, Flamingo/Winnebago, THE MeLTING BRiDg, Red-Eye to Havre de Grace, The Earth’s Sharp Edge, ¡El Conquistador!, and CAPSULE 33, which was the first theater work to be powered entirely from renewable energy. He has been nominated for a Drama League Award, a Lucille Lortel Award, and a Hewes Award.  

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