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Ensemble Studio Theatre Announces EST/Sloan Science & Technology Project 2021 First Light Festival

The 2021 First Light Festival will be held virtually from February 25 to March 29, 2021.

Ensemble Studio Theatre Announces EST/Sloan Science & Technology Project 2021 First Light Festival

Ensemble Studio Theatre and The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation have announced details for the 2021 First Light Festival, part of the EST/Sloan Project to develop plays exploring science and technology.

The 2021 First Light Festival will be held virtually from February 25 to March 29, 2021. All presentations are free to attend, but reservations are required and can be made at

Since 1998, the EST/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science & Technology Project has developed hundreds of new plays that question and broaden the view of science in the popular imagination. Each play's life onstage begins with the First Light Festival, an annual presentation of new readings, workshops and productions.

The 2021 First Light Festival includes public presentations of the following works-in-progress:

Circumstances Affecting the Heat of the Sun's Rays

By Amanda Quaid

Thursday February 25 at 4pm ET

A story about amateur scientist Eunice Foote, one big discovery, scientific legacy, and the ever-rising levels of carbon dioxide.

Henry Makes a Bible

By AJ Clauss

Monday March 1 at 3pm ET

The creation story of the world's most famous medical textbook created by two college students in 1850, Henry and Henry. Henry Makes a Bible is a story of gentle eyes and cold bones.


By Mary Elizabeth Hamilton

Thursday March 4 at 3pm ET

When called to fix a virtual home assistant, a tech support worker becomes infatuated with her client. Smart examines the real-life implications of our virtual interactions.


By Bonnie Antosh

Wednesday March 10 at 3pm ET

In the animal kingdom and in our own, how does a queen pass the crown to another queen? Lemuria is a queer King Lear set in a North Carolina lemur lab.

The Reservoir

By Jake Brasch

Monday March 22 at 4pm ET

A lost, queer, neurotic mess of a twenty-something moves home to get sober. Struggling with memory loss, he finds unlikely allies in his four unpredictable grandparents.

Good Hair

By Phaedra Michelle Scott

Monday March 29 at 3pm ET

Told through three timelines, Good Hair tangles together the lives of women and the central question: Does the pursuit of acceptance outweigh its cost?

The 2021 First Light Festival also includes invitation-only presentations of the following works-in-progress:

Pō e Ao [darkness & light]

By Susan Soon He Stanton

Dramatizing the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope, Pō e Ao explores the intersections of the sacred, science, capitalism, and tradition in modern Hawai'i.

Beyond Words

By Laura Maria Censabella

Beyond Words dramatizes the mysterious relationship between human beings and birds through a 30-year groundbreaking experiment that captures our longing to communicate with animals.

Las Borinqueñas

By Nelson Diaz-Marcano

Las Borinqueñas is the story of the first birth control pill mass trial and the Puerto Rican women who risked their own health for the breakthrough to occur.

Throughout the First Light Festival, EST is encouraging patrons to donate to the non-profit organization Black Girls Do STEM. Black Girls Do STEM is a diversifying innovation, empowering Black girls to achieve equitable STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) representation. By creating a culturally unique learning space, we give room for cognitive and mental resilience. This lends to development of a STEM mindset and belief in their STEM capability, while placing positive role models who look like them right in their path. Through our core values of scholarship, training, empowerment (equity), and mentorship, we trigger curiosity in the minds of Black girls building confidence, skills, and the future STEM workforce. Visit to learn more and support them today.

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