As hyperbolic as it may sound, we are in the midst of a scientific renaissance and should thank our lucky stars that we get to witness, interact, and participate in it. There’s never been a better time to think, make, create, and learn than right now and a lot of that has to do with, oddly enough, how we’ve chosen to entertain ourselves in recent years. The immense amount of educational content on television and the internet has allowed an innumerable amount of people to continue learning outside of a classroom environment. In this unexpected next-generation educational institution, were we to organize a faculty for it, two names in particular certainly come to mind; Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame and Michael Stevens of Vsauce.
While each have carved their own paths in scientific educational entertainment (Sci-edu-tainment?) with Savage’s years of Mythbusting and time with Tested.com and Stevens’ in-depth and eclectic YouTube videos through his growing Vsauce empire – the two have teamed up to take learning on the road with their upcoming live theater tour; Brain Candy.
“What is Brain Candy?” you ask, out loud, making everyone in the coffee shop or on the bus think you’re weird for having talked at an article. Well, the official website for the tour describes it as a “A cross between TED Talks and the Blue Man Group.” likening the experience to “a two-hour play date with Walt Disney, Willy Wonka and Albert Einstein.”
Last month, the opportunity came about to bend Adam Savage’s ear in order to delve a bit deeper into what Brain Candy means to him and what audiences can expect from the tour. We spoke about the evolution of educational entertainment and how bringing that to a live venue with Brain Candy can be exciting in unexpected ways. Savage seeks to “physicalize understanding” in each show and “bring to stage the visceral experience you have when you understand something in a slightly new way that changes how you see everything.” He pointed out that “There’s not a lot out there that crosses into this territory [live educational stage shows] and I think we need this.”
There was an undeniable excitement in his voice as he touched on how unexpected a live show like Brain Candy can be especially when it involves audience participation. Through previous live shows during his Mythbusters years, Savage considers each new audience member helping with an experiment or a demonstration as “the best part… because it keeps the show fresh every single night.” That’s right, folks, you may be able to personally help Adam Savage with an experiment live on stage and, to him, it’ll be the best part of the show. And being the best part of the show could, potentially, be something that happens for years to come as Savage considers Brain Candy something he’d like to do for years. “I love the touring and I love how the show changes… I love the process of figuring out to what to put in a show and how it changes over time”
While my intention was just to learn more about this new live endeavor (coming to a city near you), I found myself in awe of how genuine Savage is when speaking about education. To listen to someone whom I admire for teaching me over the years via different forms of media actually talk to me about how he loves to teach via different forms of media was, quite possibly, the most surreal thing in my life to date. The passion in Savage’s voice about Brain Candy is unmistakable but not just for what we’ll see as an audience. It became evident that there’s a personal adventure he’s having in creating the show with Stevens even before anyone ever sees it. It’s truly a mark of someone who loves to create and a sign that Brain Candy, although a show intended for audiences of all ages around the country, is–first and foremost–a project by a true maker of things excited to create something new.
It’s that enthusiasm for making things that I found we kept going back to in the short time we spoke. Savage has always been a advocate for the maker community and a learn-by-doing mindset from his time with Mythbusters and Tested saying “It’s never been a better time to be a maker.” This is certainly true considering the tools we have at our fingertips, the resources we can access from anywhere, and the growing community of like-minded people around the globe. Not only will he and Stevens be educating and inspiring countless theater goers on the Brain Candy tour in the coming months, Savage also expressed his excitement about the work he’s doing as a board member of The Nation of Makers, a non-profit that focuses on a nation of… well, makers.
Brain Candy will hit 40 cities around the U.S. this spring and tickets, as you can imagine, are going quickly. You can learn more about tickets and the show in general from Brain Candy’s website and get involved in the maker community by visiting Nation of Makers.
Are you excited about seeing Brain Candy live in a town near you? What’s the last thing you created, tinkered with, or helped make? Let’s discuss in the comments below!
Images: Brain Candy Live!