Bean, a theatrical series in the service of the popularization of science

“Binom” is a game of chance between theater and science, a crossroads of emotions and knowledge. These are unexpected encounters between researchers and authors who come together for creative time around scientific disciplines whose often difficult concepts are overcome by literary invention. This theatrical UFO, born ten years ago, owes the originality of its device to Thibault Rossinier, actor and director of the company Les sens des mots, who is at the helm of the production and interpretation of “Binom, Poet and Scientist”, visible from 17 to 19 March 2022 at the Theater Queen Blanche in Paris*. His practice as an intermittent reality TV performer once led him to integrate certain genre codes into theater:”I was struck by the extraordinary efficiency of this type of production, and I imagined how to put it at the service of real cultural content. Like a reality show, Binôme is built around an incredible meeting of characters who are unaware of each other’s identity, the expectation of mutual discovery, a mystery interrupted by a countdown… these recipes worked. in the dramaturgy that we staged”he explains.

©Romain Kosellec/LSDM

From reality show to theater

The protocol of parts is codified. The two designated people get to know each other, and the only conversation, during which the author asks the researcher a question about the subject he is studying, is filmed. During the one and a half months that the author devotes to writing, they no longer have the right to communicate, and when the work is transferred, the direct reaction of the researcher to reading it is also removed. During a theatrical transposition performed by three actors, excerpts from these videos are offered to the audience, who are invited to discuss the play freely at the end. The inventor of Binom has established strong ties with many research institutes that suggest to him scientific personalities supposedly capable of playing this game. He does not know them himself, and the choice of the artist remains with him, with the certainty that the latter will have carte blanche for his creating around sometimes sensitive issues, such as, for example, the issue of nuclear waste, which has already been considered. The chance of planes crossing then does – very well – everything else, as the alchemy of encounters has yielded some pretty nuggets so far. “Binom shows us how far we are progressing in an ultra-divided society of ultra-specialists, and researchers are taking the opportunity to break out of a certain isolation that is characteristic of their environment.” emphasizes Thibault Rossinier.


DNA is poetic

Book in four lettersThe pair, which can be discovered on March 17, 2022 at the Théâtre de la Reine Blanche, is the result of a collaboration between writer Alice Zeniter** and Jean-François Deleuze, Director of the National Center for Research in Human Genomics (CNRGH). ) as part of the People’s Commissariat of Atomic Energy and Alternative Energy Sources (ECA). About his attitude to art, this specialist in genetic medicine, passionate about painting and books, whose office is filled with sculptures and paintings found in flea markets, says: “Art is my oxygen, it allows me to think differently. I do not I do not fall into mysticism, claiming that I draw from it the answers to the scientific problems that I encounter, but I would say that it opens up deeply useful intellectual dimensions for me. I could make it my job… alas, it pays even less than science!”, he is laughing. Her literary gluttony was complemented by an exchange with a writer: her ability to capture and sublimate the workings of our DNA and the ethical and social issues of medicine, seeking to decipher the secrets of our genes, literally stunned me:She grasped the complex scientific concepts involved in genome sequencing very well, and embodied the complexity of its deciphering and its usefulness for detecting diseases in a poetic work full of subtlety and humor.he says enthusiastically.

Holobionte and proud of it

In Alice Zeniter’s play, the four letters hinted at by the title are ATGC, the bases of our DNA, the repeating sequence of which is of interest to geneticists, but here we are talking about a pregnant woman. She is forced to sit still, she is bored, and her companion, in order to distract her, invites a scientist, whom he served as a driver during the symposium, to dinner. The latter says that he spends his whole life reading DNA, scrolling through the same letters billions of times, and then fussing over statistics. An expectant mother, puzzled by the question of heredity and possible insidious diseases that await her child, discovers that her stomach has sheltered not only the baby, but millions and millions of bacteria. The revelation is amazing: she is a holobiont – a superorganism consisting of a host and all its microbes – and is proud of it! Ready to proclaim the newly acquired dignity of prokaryotes!

Holobiont, totipotent cells, cloning, genetic manipulation, so many concepts are explored and implicated in a funny fiction that turns into a vector of popular science for the general public. The audience, which according to Thibaut Rossinier is very diverse and open, nevertheless does have a viewer base.”binomials”from “watch the same device lead to different achievements every time. Not realizing the fact that their very way of being spectators can be interpreted as a process of scientific observation.”.

*Binôme #11 at Théâtre de la Reine Blanche in Paris, March 17/19, 2022 Info

**Alice Zeniter, writer and playwright, won the Prix Goncourt of the Lyceums 2017 for her novel. The art of losing (Flammarion)

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