Stir-fried Science Program for Sydney Fringe 2022

Dramatis Scientificae


in association with


Stir-fried Science

by Michele Conyngham, Phil Dooley and Patrick Trumper


The Studio, Newtown Performing Arts High School, Sydney

September 27th to October 1st, 2022


We‘re excited to bring our latest show to Sydney for the Sydney Fringe Festival!


Our quest is to bring science to comedy lovers and comedy to science lovers: it’s a win-win!


The pandemic has brought scientists into the world spotlight, as the global experiment to combat COVID has unfolded. People have seen scientists on the news, grappling with evidence, trying to draw the best conclusions, sometimes getting it wrong, but mostly right, as this dastardly bug has ducked and weaved around our medical defences.


This quest for answers, by human beings pitted against the world, is worthy, challenging and therefore, deeply funny. Trying to come up with new theories for how nature behaves leads you down some twisted paths, and so we hope you enjoy coming with us, and hanging out with some of the local scientists who are on the quest.


Cast and crew


Margie McCrae


Pete Blackburn


Michele Conyngham

Alison Carlson

Patrick Trumper


Guest Scientists

Dr Theo ten Brummelaar (Tuesday 27/9; Thursday 29/9)

Dr Saoirse Connor Desai (Tuesday 27/9; Saturday 1/10)

Dr Gerard van Belle (Tuesday 27/9)

Sing-Young Chen (Thursday 29/9; Friday 30/9)

Dr Alessandro Tuniz (Friday 30/9; Saturday 1/10)


Lighting and sound operation

Sydney Fringe Production



Ash Hamilton


Social media

Sydney Fringe Marketing & Communications



“Insurance” (music and lyrics by Michele Conyngham)

Parody of “Changes” (music by David Bowie / lyrics by Michele Conyngham)

Parody of “We Go Together” (music by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey / lyrics by Michele Conyngham)


Incidental Music

“Smile” (music by Charlie Chaplin / lyrics by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons)

“Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” (by George and Ira Gershwin)

Special thanks to:

The UNSW School of Biotechnology and Bimolecular Sciences; Inspiring Australia; National Science week; Science in Public; the Rev Bill Crews Foundation; NHSPA; Austen/Kaupe; Phillida Green; Benjamin Turner; Irene Lemon; Sandie Walters; Amanda Buckworth; Jacqui Bonner; Tim McGarry; Ian Zammit; Paul Capsis; Damien Ryan; Rachael Adamson; Jo Douglas; Charley Sanders; Craig Cormick; Stuart Hay; Jen Martin, Jas Chambers, Paul Willis, Julia Martin, Adrian King; Michael Manuell; ANU Research School of Physics; Nikolai Lobanov; Lauren Bezzina; Professor Mahananda Dasgupta; Phil and Poppy; Hal Conyngham; Jonty Davies-Conyngham.

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The Company



Michele Conyngham (writer / performer)

Michele is a writer, actor, musician and director. She has written eighteen plays for adults and children, which have been performed in theatres throughout Australia including Belvoir Street Theatre, The Seymour Centre, Troupe Theatre and Lamplight Theatre. As a performer, she had success in London as a twenty-something (performing at the Half Moon Theatre as Herr Vogelsang in Karl Valentin’s Komiker Kabaret and the lead in a Channel 4 film – Freedom Fighters) before returning to Australia and starting her own theatre company, Lamplight Theatre. She has also taught English, French, Music & History in high schools. The part of Dramatis Scientificae she finds most exciting is performing in productions that include scientists improvising.





Patrick Trumper (writer / performer)

Patrick is an actor, writer and theatre director. He has performed all over Australia and the UK in a wide variety of plays – from playing Rosencrantz in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, to playing Macbeth in Macbeth, Benedick in Much Ado about Nothing  and performing as Will Shakespeare in Shakespeare’s Queens: Sea-wolves and Serpents at Stratford-upon-Avon and on London’s West End. His television appearances include guest roles on Darwin’s Brave New World; All Saints and The Escape of the Artful Dodger. Patrick loves self-devised theatre, having written and directed shows for alternative venues as well as for high schools. He has also written short screenplays, a yet to be published children’s book, and is working on a Young Adult novel. He has taught English and Drama in high schools and elsewhere.






Margie McCrae (director)

Margie has worked extensively in theatre, television and film. Theatre acting work includes The Vagina Monologues (SOH) The Taming of the Shrew (Bardmaids) The Listmaker (Bell Shakespeare) A Bed of Ruses (Griffin Theatre Co) Twelfth Night, That Christmas of ’75, The Mystery of Irma Vep, Hating Alison Ashley, Five Times Dizzy and Dags (Theatre South), Danny in Trouble (Richard Tulloch), The Waltz of the Toreadors (Marian St. Theatre), and numerous comedy shows for Kirribilli Pub Theatre including Sketchaphrenic. Television includes The Chaser, The Two Ronnies, Brass Monkeys, Kingswood Country, Willessee Comedy Sketches, Sister Bullwinkel, The Great Bookie Robbery, All Saints, Home and Away, G.P., A Country Practice, Candid Camera, The Restless Years. Feature Films: Guests, Winter of our Dream, Dallas Doll, Alison’s Birthday, Beast and many corporate videos and short films for AFTRS. In her role as Artistic Director of Marian Street Theatre for Young People she has produced, dramaturged and directed many plays including The Magic Pudding, Pearlie in the Park, Sydney Coves, Arabian Tales and Bluebeard and co-directed others including Babe the Sheep Pig, Wind in the Willows, Midnite and Danny in the Toybox, as well as freelance directing for Theatre South, Wollongong (This Other Eden). Margie has a Master of Creative Arts from Wollongong University and has taught for many years: Directing for The Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and Acting, Improvisation and Camera Skills for many organisations including Wollongong University, NSW Tafe, Dept. of Corrective Services, WEA and Sydney Community College.





Alison Carlson (performer)

Alison Carlson is a Theatre grad from Wollongong University’s School of Creative Arts and a Communications grad majoring in Film Production  from Macquarie University. She co-wrote and performed children’s theatre as one half of the Famous Frogmonkeys with Troy Carlson, touring shows around NSW. She has produced theatrical productions for Epicentre and Quasimodo  and directed Comedy of Errors for Epicentre Theatre. Acting roles include  Rosalind from As You Like It, Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Princess of France in Love’s Labours Lost, Margaret in Much Ado About Nothing,  Olivia in Twelfth Night, Ottla in Kafka Dances, Le Bret in Cyrano DeBergerac , Erica Yurken in Hating Alison Ashley and Helen McCormick in The Cripple of Inishmaan. This is her first production with Dramatis Scienticae.








Dr Phil Dooley (writer)

Phil is a physicist, entertainer, pianist and singer. By day, he’s a science writer for Cosmos Magazine, New Scientist, Australian Geographic and more, and was selected for the 2018, 2019 and 2020 Anthologies of Best Australian Science Writing. He’s on the National Committee of the Australian Science Communicators. By night he performs in science shows and festivals around the world, from Glasgow, Brighton and London to Sydney, Canberra and Adelaide.







Guest Scientists



Dr Saoirse Connor Desai

Saoirse is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Sydney Thinking and Reasoning (STAR) Lab at UNSW. Her research focuses on uncovering the cognitive processes involved in human reasoning and judgment.A key theme of her research is how people come to believe and defend misinformation.People increasingly face snippets of information, from a variety of sources, that they must combine to arrive at a judgment or decision (e.g.,deciding whom to vote in an election, issues surrounding climate change). Are people sensitive to ways the information was produced?Do people consider the reliability of the information and its source when making such judgments? A key goal is of Saoirse’s research is to apply rigorous experimental approaches to questions concerning real-world problems such as these.


Dr Theo ten Brummelaar

Theo is a world expert on high resolution astronomy – the art of obtaining extremely detailed pictures of local star systems. He got his PhD far too long ago and went to the US for a two year postdoctoral fellowship. That turned into a 29 year stint working with the Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy (CHARA) group at Georgia State University and ended recently when he retired as Director of the CHARA Array on Mount Wilson just north of Los Angeles to return to Australia. Along the way he worked on the design and construction of the CHARA Array, an array of six optical telescopes spread out across the mountain which when connected together forms an instrument with 30 times the resolving power of the largest telescopes in the world. It is used to image the surface and local environment of stars, something that can not be done in any other way, including stars with planetary systems around them. He continues to dabble in Astronomy when he can tear himself away from his guitar.


Dr Gerard van Belle

Dr. van Belle is an astronomer at the Lowell Observatory, and Chief Scientist of the NavyPrecision Optical Interferometer, both in Flagstaff, Arizona. He is an internationally recognised expert in the construction, commissioning, and use of optical telescope arrays, for carrying out astronomical observations at the highest levels of spatial resolution, including IOTA, PTI, Keck Interferometer, CHARA, VLTI-PRIMA and-MATISSE, and NPOI. His telescope projects have been pioneering in the fields of stellar surface imaging and characterisation of exoplanet host stars.At home he is a not-quite-incompetent home brewer, and is restoring a vintage pinball machine.




Sing-Young Chen

Sing-Young is a final-year PhD candidate at the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences at UNSW. She completed her undergraduate studies in physiology and biochemistry at the University of Sydney, during which she rotated through several research laboratories. These experiences led her to her current work in metabolic biology, which is how the body converts molecules into different molecules to generate energy and sustain life. Her PhD examines the effects of a special type of molecule (an “uncoupler”) on improving diabetes in mouse models. In her spare time, Sing-Young likes knitting, inline skating, and hiking.






Dr Alessandro Tuniz

Alessandro obtained his PhD in Physics from the University of Sydney in 2013. He then went toGermany for a bit, thinking it might be a great experience to work in Jena, the city of light. He thought correctly. He is currently a SeniorLecturer and ARC Discovery Early Career Fellow at the School of Physics (Usyd), and director of the Sydney Terahertz Laboratory. His research interest is experimental optics and photonics, and he often finds himself trying to make ever smaller devices which efficiently manipulate light in various parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. He is also a member of the “Mission to Alpha Centauri” Starshot Grand challenge team (School of Physics), who are looking into sending a probe to α-Centauri within our life time by blasting a lot of laser power onto a well-designed spacecraft.