Rough Science: LIFE. The wrap-up.

It was several months ago now that I put in the application to be part of the 2014 Melbourne Fringe. The final night for the show was on Saturday, and had an amazing sold-out performance, and a really great review!

It’s left me today reflecting on a few things over the past few months that made Rough Science: LIFE the success that it was. (Images by Fenstar Images.)

Rough Science on Stage

To get it on stage, I ran a crowdfunding campaign through Pozible. This is the second time I’ve run a Pozible campaign, with the first one being an unmitigated disaster — a disaster I learned quite a lot from. This time I had a closely planned budget, carefully thought-out rewards, and all of my social media posts lined up for the next few weeks. The campaign finished past the funded mark, with two people going for the extra-special $200 reward of a Rough Science birthday.

Rough Science: LIFE Pozible

It’s not a One-Man-Show
The next time I do something like this, I will be pulling together some kind of production team. In the meantime, I had a small and brilliant group of volunteers helping out at various stages of the project. (Though I couldn’t pay people, where I could I arranged Fringe Artist Passes, which get you into other performances for free and discounts at the Fringe Club.) They were: Astrophysicist Katie Mack, Astrophysicist Ruth Pearson, Paul Elliott, and Fenstar Images.

And my parents stepped up to the plate every night.

The Performances
Ira Glass has this quote where he talks about the disappointment we may feel when our work does not live up to the image in our heads. When I performed Rough Science: LIFE at the Adelaide Fringe for the very first time, the gap between what I had presented and what I wanted to present was enormous. In the twenty-four hours between the first and second performance, I had some coaching from Cobi Smith, plus I added something new to each section. That second performance was closer to my vision.

Several months later, and the Rough Science: LIFE experience was still closer to what I wanted to present. It had moved away from being a lecture, to being a more dynamic and engaging science show.



104 copy

106 copy

107 copy

116 copy

121 copy





146 copy


155 copy

159 copy

177 copy

182 copy




207 copy





273 copy

291 copy

308 copy



For next time
It is possibly time to put Rough Science: LIFE to bed and move onto another project. What happens next? Well, if (and when!) I write another show, I am definitely going to put together a team to help with all the aspects of the production. As much a I want to have my hands on all parts of the show, the last few weeks have been intensely stressful!


Breaking even, and possibly making a profit, is intrinsic to making the process sustainable. Another Pozible is definitely in the future.

In the meantime, there is a mass of goodwill and good feelings from the audience who came and the people who supported the show. I love you all!

It’s Not Circus, It’s Science

School Holidays are here, and rather than hemorrhage money at the Royal Melbourne Show, there are many other events to take you’re little ones.

For instance, I can heartily recommend It’s Not Circus, It’s Science, put on by the duo Barnard and Wild of Teacup Tumble Theatre. It’s circus meets science meets physical comedy and whips.

Welcome ladies and gentlemen to today’s Inaugural Symposium of Distinguished Scientists. Professors Wild and Barnard are here to demonstrate some important scientific breakthroughs – if only Professor Wild would stop tampering with the equipment and making friends with the audience.

It’s Not Circus It’s Science is a 40 minute show complete with acrobatics, clowning, neuroscience and physics. Audiences gasp, yell and laugh uproariously as these ridiculous scientists fumble their way through their presentation. Adults love it, children love it, scientists wish they were it; this is circus for the elite minds of the 21st Century!

Dates: September 27th – 30th
Times: 11am each day
Duration: 40 minutes + 10 minutes Q&A
Ages: 5 to 12 & their families
Venue: Northcote Uniting Church Hall
Cost: $15 regular, $12 concession
Bookings: (03) 9481 9500 or Click Here
How to Get There: Click Here

A little Penn and Teller

I had a number of influences for An Evening of Rough Science.  One of the most important was stage magic.

I have a larger and more detailed talk about how science demonstrations and magic tricks have a lot in common.  That’s a subject for another time.

Right now, here are a couple of clips of Penn and Teller that have influenced me over the past two years.

How slight of hand tricks can influence science demonstrations came to me while reading Derren Brown, but Penn and Teller have a brilliant act that lays out the (so called) rules of slight of hand.

Penn and Teller are also famous for telling people how their magic is done, and the cup and balls act with clear cups is one of their most famous. Interesting that in actually seeing how it is done in no way removes anything from the experience. (Interesting, too, how in this video the acoustics of the tomb they are in are so terrible, Penn has to really crank down his usual exuberance.)

Penn now explains human perception of numbers. No magic, but a great way to make an otherwise dry subject engaging.

Larger scale now.

An Evening of Rough Science

I am putting on a show!

Rough Science brochure

In an Evening of Rough Science we will conduct an autopsy on a microwave, unweave the rainbow to make the sky is blue, and unravel the challenges of how to explain Climate Change to your dad.

Join Sean Elliott, a science communicator with over ten years experience of writing and presenting shows for Museum Victoria and the CSIRO, for an evening of Rough Science.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011.

For more info, and how to book, visit An Evening of Rough Science page at Theoretikos.

Bookings are essential!

IMTAP and the Cheese Man

Last Friday saw the first conference performance of The Cheese Man, not to the adoring General Public, but instead to the hard and steely gaze of the “performance in cultural institutions” big names.  To my credit, I did it without too many hitches, and even managed to spray milk over the girls in the front row.

I was gratified to later find that some were genuinely impressed; even Tubby the Robot said he enjoyed it, and that meant a lot coming from him.

So Cheese Man has legs.  The Science Week experiment may see another revival next Science Week, and hopefully with a drop more funding.  

The conference also saw the official launch of IMTAP: International Museum Theatre Asia Pacific with typical Patric Watt aplomb and fanfare.