The Maine Science Festival’s headlining event will be a major collaboration with a local arts organization for the second year in a row.
The festival, which kicked off on Wednesday, March 22, will encompass two weekends this year. It has been held over just one weekend in prior years. The traditional slate of panels, workshops and presentations exploring the world of science and technology in Maine is set for March 25 through 27, at the Cross Insurance Center and multiple downtown Bangor locations.
The festival is produced by the Maine Discovery Museum and aims to inform and entertain the general public about the many fascinating scientific and technological discoveries happening in Maine. It has attracted thousands of people of all ages each year to Bangor since its inception in 2015.
The second weekend beginning March 30 includes the headliner event of the Penobscot Theatre Company’s production of “Queen,” a Maine premiere of the comedic play by Madhuri Shekar. It’s set to run for three weekends at the Bangor Opera House, and is directed by Kaiser Ahmed.
Maine Science Festival executive director Angela Smith said that developing partnerships with organizations of all stripes has been one of the festival’s goals since it was founded in 2015, and and that science and the arts have always been deeply intertwined.
Last year, after a pandemic delay, the festival presented “The Warming Sea,” a musical collaboration with the Bangor Symphony Orchestra.
“One of the biggest falsities that exists is that arts and science are completely independent of each other and that’s just not true,” Smith said. “In reality, we are both going for the truth, and when we come together we have a more dynamic and holistic way of reaching people.”
“Queen” tells the story of Sanam and Ariel, played by Karina Patel and Aimee Gerow, who are scientists and best friends who have spent years undertaking crucial research that could help save the world’s endangered populations of honeybees. Just before they finally present their research, a last minute discovery upends their work. They’re faced with a dilemma: do they start all over, or do they fudge the details in order to claim scientific glory?
Before the play, the festival will run two programs about bees — a presentation on the science of beekeeping alongside a beer tasting set for 6:30 p.m. March 23, at Mason’s Brewing Company in Brewer, and a workshop on how Mainers can help bees in their own backyards, set for 12:30 p.m. March 26, at Penobscot Theatre’s Dramatic Academy space at 51 Main St. in Bangor.
Besides the play, the festival will present its usual slate of interactive and informative programming, centered around its Friday night presentation of 5-Minute Genius, in which leading Maine scientists present their research in easily digestible five-minute increments. That’s set for 7:30 p.m. at the Bangor Arts Exchange.
On Saturday, the Cross Insurance Center will be taken over by more than 30 organizations, all showing off the diverse array of science and technology in Maine. Kids and adults alike can learn about the many projects in engineering, astronomy, geology, ecology, public health, climate studies, computer science and more that are happening within the state.
Sunday moves the programming to downtown Bangor, where more events on everything from the strange creatures that live in the Gulf of Maine, to science-themed board games are set for venues including The Briar Patch, Chimera Coffee, Queen City Cinema Club and the Maine Discovery Museum.
All events are free except for “Queen,” for which festival attendees can purchase a discounted ticket through the MSF website.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Karina Patel’s name.