Livermore Shakes

The Livermore Shakespeare Festival has commissioned California playwright and actress Diana Burbano to create an original play focusing on local scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and how they have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The play is part of the nonprofit Shakespeare Festival’s yearlong Science@Play initiative “to bring the scientific process to life through literature and performance” and “to highlight and provide opportunities for writers, directors, actors and scientists, especially of color,” according to organization’s website.

“Diversity is nothing that can ever be wished away, driven away, or washed away,” said Michael Wayne Rice, the Shakespeare Festival’s resident director. “It is baked into the very nature of our nation and the world. We are at a point in history where taking a stand and moving into action is the answer to creating a more just, empathetic and representative world.”

The Shakespeare Festival announced a renewed commitment to “equity, diversity and inclusion” last summer in response to the racial unrest caused by the death of George Floyd and others at the hand of the police.

Burbano grew up in an immigrant family, having been born in Columbia and brought to the U.S. when she was 3. Her previous plays include including “Policarpa,” “Fabulous Monsters,” and “Caliban’s Island.” In addition to writing and acting, she is a teaching artist at the South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa and the Breath of Fire Latina Theatre Ensemble in Santa Anna.

Rice said the Shakespeare Festival is also working with scientists at LLNL to identify stories for a public reading series that will accompany development of the new play, which is expected to premiere in October.