ReGenesis breaking the fourth wall big time

He's not a scientist, but he plays one on TV, and Peter Outerbridge has been teaming with a geneticist, an ethicist and a science reporter to present what's almost certainly a first for a TV series.

What ReGenesis star Peter Outerbridge and some of his fellow cast members have been doing lately goes way beyond meet-and-greet fan events. Twice so far, and possibly again in the future, they’ve teamed with a geneticist, an ethicist and Daily Planet science reporter Jay Ingram to present science-themed public forums.

The first one, dubbed ‘A Meeting of Minds: Art, Science and Popular Culture,’ took place in Toronto in September. The second, held in Hamilton last week, was ‘Revealing ReGenesis – An Opportunity to Explore TV’s Experiment with Gene Science Fact & Fiction.’

What’s the aim of these events? ‘At the school level, it’s to make science seem more ‘cool’ and inclusive,’ Sue Baldaro tells MiC. She handles communications for Toronto-HQ’d Shaftesbury Films, which produces ReGenesis. In other words, she adds, ‘The purpose is to raise awareness of the importance of science and technology in students’ lives, and to showcase the need for creativity in both arts and science. We felt that spotlighting our show could do a lot to connect young people with science and show them what opportunities are available for them in the field.’

Baldaro says the idea for the public forums sprang from a brainstorming session the series’ science consultant – renowned structural biologist Dr. Aled Edwards – had with a colleague. ‘They got talking about the commonality of creativity between science and the arts, and how both areas need to be well supported to foster innovation in Canada.’

As part of the Hamilton event, Outerbridge took drama students through an acting workshop using a typically egghead ReGenesis script. Simultaneously, a science workshop took place that included a discussion of the role genetics play in diabetes and addictions – such as the fictional one suffered by a youngster in the series.

The Hamilton event was widely publicized on websites including My Hamilton, Tourism Hamilton and the Hamilton Convention Centre. As well, flyers were sent to all local libraries, and emails to 250 teachers, principals and school board staff. The Hamilton Spectator, which recently published a ‘Science in the City’ series, spotlighted the events.

The forums were produced and hosted by the Ontario Genomics Institute, Let’s Talk Science, Shaftesbury Films, the Structural Genomics Consortium and Genome BC. Hamilton event sponsors include McMaster University, the government of Ontario, Trivaris, OCE, Dalton Pharma Services and the Golden Horseshoe Biosciences Network.