Theatre departments are often asked by other departments to coordinate their productions to coincide with and complement an interdisciplinary conference. But working in such interdisciplinary contexts can bring into relief both the disciplinary boundaries which often preclude understanding between scholars in different fields, and the power/status differential of the academy which privileges science over letters over arts. It can, as a result, be extremely difficult to change the status of a theatrical performance from "sideshow" and entertainment to an integral and relevant aspect of interdisciplinary work. The effort to do so will often require conscious, deliberate choices by the theatre artists involved to engage specifically with the concerns of other disciplines in order both to make the production part of the main conversation, and-even more importantly-to alert colleagues from other disciplines to the seriousness of our work and the deepness of our play. When successful, such performances can critically intervene in an interdisciplinary event and fundamentally challenge scholars from other disciplines to reconsider their own methodologies and approaches. I offer in this article as a case study in successful intervention a production of Brecht's Life of Galileo, which was presented in conjunction with an interdisciplinary conference entitled "Galileo and the Church" in April 2002 at the University of Notre Dame. I trace the ways in which our theatrical production was able to become an integral part of the interdisciplinary conversation, and argue that not only can we avoid the risks of having our work marginalized as entertainment, but that we can make our work more central to the academy by using performance to frame, foster, and enable interdisciplinary dialogue.


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pp. 275-291
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