Sidney has penned the stage plays Friedmann’s Balloon and Glory Enough. He is also author of the performance-dance piece Albert and Isadora, and he has written a screenplay, Second Obsession.
Friedmann’s Balloon is a play about the Soviet scientist Aleksander Friedmann, who in the 1920s noted an error in Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Einstein was indeed wrong, as he came to admit, and the corrected theory supported the idea of an expanding universe – which, we now know, is true. Friedmann’s Balloon was produced at Emory and at Duke universities.
Glory Enough tells the story of Rosalind Franklin, the young English chemist whose X-ray analysis of DNA played a crucial role in the discovery of its double helix structure by Francis Crick and James Watson in the 1950s. That discovery earned a Nobel Prize for Crick and Watson, but no glory for Franklin, whose role was suppressed. The play portrays this injustice, mingled with snapshots from her short life (she died at 37), and raises questions about scientific ethics and male views of women in science. Glory Enough was produced at Emory University.
Albert and Isadora was created in collaboration with The Isadora Duncan Dance Foundation and its resident dance company, Lori Belilove’s Isadora Duncan Dance Company. It’s a fantasy in which Albert Einstein and the dancer Isadora Duncan – who lived in the same era – meet, talk, flirt, and present their views of the universe, which are more similar than you might think. It explores the creative spirits of Duncan and Einstein, paradigms of different fields who exemplify a unique turn-of-the century time that fostered revolutions in both art and science. The 20 minute to 1/2 hour program illustrates the art of Duncan’s dance and the concepts of Einstein’s science. Both creators describe space and time, drawing on “body knowledge,” the visceral sense of one’s physical place, essential for dancers like Duncan, and equally essential for Einstein as he pictured himself surfing on a light wave. Isadora also expresses some ideas from Einstein’s relativity through her dancing. Further connections between these icons of the early 20th century emerge as Isadora (choreographed and danced by Belilove) and Einstein interact with each other and with the audience. First performances were part of the Art and Science Symposium held at the CUNY Graduate Center in tandem with the Einstein exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History, New York. It was also produced in Chicago.
The Second Obsession
The Second Obsession is a dramatic screenplay about cloning, as used and misused by a scientist who confuses his scientific with his romantic obsessions. The results are almost catastrophic but end up producing enormous benefits too, though at great cost to the scientist and those he loves. The Second Obsession is in progress.