Institute of Ideas debate following an early matinee of Carl Djerassi’s new play Taboos on Saturday 18 March at 2.30pm at the New End Theatre, 27 New End, Hampstead, London, NW3 1JD.

Taboos is a new comedy about the science and politics of reproduction. Between matinee and evening performances, the play’s author, renowned scientist and inventor of the contraceptive pill, Carl Djerassi, will be joined by a panel to discuss the themes explored in the play. Chaired by Claire Fox, director of the Institute of Ideas, the panel will include theatre critic Patrick Marmion, theatre director Helen Eastman, journalist Dea Birkett and social policy lecturer Ellie Lee. They will consider the far reaching implications of scientific innovation, specifically reproductive technologies, as well as the role of the theatre in exploring these themes.

We hope that you will attend what promises to be a lively and novel contribution to the public debate about reproductive technologies. This is also a welcome opportunity to consider the relationship between science, art and society and your input and experience would be most welcome.

TABOOS By Carl Djerassi Saturday 18 March

Early matinee from 2.30pm to 4.40pm Debate from at 5.00pm to 6.30pm

Tickets for Matinee and debate £19/ £17 concessions Tickets for debate only £9/ £7 concessions New End Theatre Box office- 0870 033 2733

Terms such as ‘marriage’, ”family’, and ‘parent’ used to have firm denotations. They were the rock on which many of our cultural values rested. Terms such as ’embryo’, ‘baby’, or ‘twin’ were also considered unambiguous. But recently, all these terms have become destabilized, their meanings blurred, their range extended. Some would blame in vitro fertilization technology for these developments, but in fact major social and cultural changes, primarily in the USA and Europe, were more responsible for the monumental shift that has caused so much fear and antagonism, especially among the ever increasingly strident fundamentalists in the USA. So why not write a play about a situation where ‘family’ and ‘parent’ have assumed disturbingly fuzzy meanings?

TABOOS may be seen as a classic tale of scientific progress; A scientific innovation is greeted with outrage from traditional moralists, who predict the collapse of society if the innovation is allowed. But the secular law permits the innovation (because there are deserving cases) and society learns to cope, until the next challenge when the whole process is repeated. TABOOS cleverly raises as many questions as it answers. Are not the fundamentalist Christians on uncertain ground basing themselves on a holy book full of unusual family set-ups and a messiah who is the product of a surrogate birth? Will not the lawyers be the main beneficiaries of the legal complications of alternative families? What does a child in a lesbian family call its two ‘mothers’? Above all, is it science that is pushing these issues forward, or is it society insisting scientists come up with solutions to questions that traditional social institutions can no longer answer?

“up-to-the-nanosecond comedy… flings up a thousand pertinent questions…” – Evening Standard on An Immaculate Misconception

Directed by Andy Jordan Designed by Michael Taylor With Kathryn Akin, James Albrecht, Nicola Bryant, Jane Perry, and Jeremy Lindsay Taylor