In an attempt to merge art with science, thespians and theorists are uniting forces.

The Professional Artists Lab, a division of the Film Studies Dept, and the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI), a research partnership between UCSB and UCLA, have collaborated to create the first-ever International STAGE Script Competition for plays written about science and technology. Nancy Kawalek, a film studies professor and founder of the Professional Artists Lab, said the winning script submission would receive a $10,000 award from Scientists, Technologists and Artists Generating Exploration (STAGE) and will also be honored with a stage reading by a cast of professional actors.

Kawalek said she thinks the project bridges the gap between science and art.

“The International STAGE Script Competition endeavors to cultivate appreciation and collaboration between the two cultures of science and art,” she said in an e-mail.

The competition is open to anyone not involved in the application and review process, and script submissions must explore scientific or technological stories, themes, issues or events, Kawalek said. STAGE is advertising internationally to art and science publications, as well as to organizations such as universities and theaters. Entries must be postmarked by Dec. 15, 2005.

Kawalek said the project’s magnitude makes it one of the first to be launched by a group at a university.

“This is truly an international competition,” Kawalek said. “Submissions will be accepted from anywhere in the world.”

Among those sitting on the script selection panel are UCSB Nobel laureates professors Alan Heeger and David Gross. Heeger said he is eager to take part in the judging of the scripts.

“I look forward to the opportunity,” Heeger said. “This will involve interacting with really interesting people.”

Kawalek said the Professional Artists Lab is an artistic laboratory in the Film Studies Dept. and the Media Arts and Technology Program at UCSB. She said members of the group, which includes professional actors, directors, writers and producers, create and develop projects in various mediums, such as film, radio, theater, television and other multimedia forms.

CNSI, which is collaborating with the Professional Artists Lab in the competition, is one of the California Institutes for Science and Innovation. Researchers involved with CNSI study scientific matters at the nanoscale.

Evelyn Hu, co-director of CNSI, said she is very excited about what this competition could achieve.

“I hope this contest will foster a closer relationship between the arts and science [and] engineering,” Hu said. “The arts can represent the impact and excitement of science in different ways, and extend the reach of science and scientific ideas.”

Kawalek said she has not yet received any submissions, but said she is hopeful that the contest will be a success.

“Since the competition was officially announced recently, we don’t expect to receive any entries just yet, and haven’t thus far,” Kawalek said.

For those interested, guidelines for submissions are available at the project website: