Discover more stories about Mitacs — and the game-changing innovations driven by students and postdocs.
Oscar-winning producer debuts theatrical production that brings math to life for high school students
Vancouver, BC, December 14, 2011: What do you get when an Academy Award-winning producer, a film and television actor-director and an acclaimed choreographer team up to put high school math in the theatrical spotlight? A professional production with original music, dance, sets, costumes and comedy designed to make students think differently about one of high school’s most misunderstood subjects.
Math Out Loud is a theatrical production created to pique students’ interest in math. “When I took on this project, it was clear that what we really had to do was to make math cool for kids,” said Oscar winner Dale Hartleben. “We had to make this a big idea because math is a big idea, so we pulled out all stops to make this play special.” Film and television actor Mackenzie Gray is the play’s writer and director, and he has created a play that is both entertaining and visually impressive.
“This play is not a math class,” explained Gray. “Students will immediately know this isn’t typical high school theatre, either. Math Out Loud is a major theatrical production that uses comedy, dance and music to make math approachable. Our goal is to reintroduce math to students in a new, creative light and hopefully re-open a door some may have considered closed.”
Math Out Loud premiered at the Frederic Wood Theatre at UBC on Wednesday, December 14, 2011. Following the launch, the theatre troupe will prepare to open to high schools in British Columbia in spring 2012.
Math Out Loud is a project that originated within the educational outreach program of Mitacs, a national not-for-profit organization which creates and manages unique research and training programs aimed at supporting an innovative Canadian economy. As math is the language of science and technology, the production is targeted at a grade 8 to 10 level. To give the production crucial showbiz credibility and to make sure the play was both engaging and effective, Mitacs brought together a production team with impressive credentials.
Highly-visible and well-recognized Vancouver television and film actor Mackenzie Gray (Superman: Man of Steel; Smallville; The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus) directed and wrote the script and songs. Academy Award-winning producer Dale Hartleben (The Man Who Skied Down Everest; 1976) produced the play. Acclaimed choreographer and Royal Winnipeg Ballet alumnus Joel Sturrock created the Broadway style dance numbers. Composer Joe Docherty arranged and recorded the music. A team of eight actors brings the production to life.
Math Out Loud tells the story of high school students Damon and Kelly as they share an adventure through a mathematical time-travelling dream full of colourful characters and conflicts that highlight the relevance of mathematics in a student’s busy modern life. Characters such as Christopher Columbus, Greek mathematician Eratosthenes and Cleopatra demonstrate mathematical principals tied to modern pop culture references. In previews, Mitacs is already receiving rave reviews from teachers and students.
“If someone had told me three months ago a play could spark my interest in studying math, I wouldn’t have believed them,” said Sayer Roberts, one of the actors on stage with Math Out Loud. “I nearly failed math when I was in school. If math and science had been approached in a fun, unusual and creative way when I was in school, I’m pretty sure I’d have a different outlook on those subjects today.”
Teachers interested in having their students attend a performance of Math Out Loud should visit the website www.mathoutloud.ca for more information. The show hopes to extend its run in British Columbia to a national tour across Canada through the support of sponsors. Potential sponsors can contact kbooth(at)mitacs.ca