We live in a world where science seems like magic. Flip a switch and, voilá! The room is filled with light! Want to talk to a family member miles away? With a few taps you can hear their voice – or even see them as you chat! Pour a liquid onto a powder and, POOF! Exploding foam!
Our world is filled with amazing phenomenon that happen so quickly that they feel magical. But these phenomena are actually made possible by scientific principles behind the scenes. And, unlike magic, this science is meant to be understood.
This is exactly what Jargie the Science Girl aims to do: pull back the curtain on scientific exploration, making it exciting and accessible for budding scientists of all ages and backgrounds.
The Scientist Behind the Curtain
Jargie the Science Girl is an entertaining science-based show, created by real-life scientist Jocelyn Argueta. The show blends scientific experiments with showmanship as a way to demonstrate how science is all around us in our day-to-day lives.
“We start with things that they’re familiar with, concepts, things they see in their everyday life. There’s a lot in the show, which is my favorite part, that blends everyday items with items you would see in a lab. It kind of gives them an opportunity to be like, ‘oh I know what that is’ so we can draw them in and build on what they already see and already know,” Jocelyn told TOCA Backstage.
TOCA Backstage interview with Jocelyn Agueta and Steve Cisneros from Jargie the Science Girl.
Jocelyn created the character of Jargie the Science Girl after earning her degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. During the day she studied and worked in labs, but in the evenings she dabbled in a different love: performing arts. She found herself wondering, ‘Why can’t I do both at the same time?’ and decided to merge the two things she loved doing.
“I’ve always loved both sides of it. My background is science…I worked in research for years. In my free time I would do theater. One of the places I started was at Phantom Projects as a performer. But there was always a divide in my life, always a struggle. Going to the lab in the morning, which I loved, asking questions and being at the forefront of discovery. And at night I would love rehearsal and performing and getting to be different characters and getting to be around such a creative environment. When I went home, the struggle was ‘why can’t I do both?’ I’ve always known I love both sides of it, I love theater. It just so happened I vented to Steve one day and said why not put them together and create our own a science show? It’s the best of both worlds and it’s been fantastic!” Jocelyn said.
Joceyln and Steve Cisneros, Producing Artistic Director & Co-Founder of Phantom Projects Theatre Group, started working on bringing Jargie the Science Girl to life in 2017. They workshopped the show by touring a scaled-down version to nearby schools, tweaking the experiments and audience interaction as they went. It wasn’t long before they hit on the winning combinations, and launched their biggest version earlier this year.
Representation that Matters
Along with her desire to combine her love of science with her passion for performing, Jocelyn also wants to show young girls that yes, women are scientists, too.
“I never had a show like this when I was growing up. I didn’t have a role model like this that showed that I can do science and theater, otherwise I might have found this out much, much sooner. When we do shows, and we have students who come up, they look like I did when I was little and they’re from similar backgrounds as I am. They tell me that they want to be a scientist or have their own lab. It really puts it into perspective that we’re doing more than just putting on shows, and that means a lot to me. I’m trying to do what I wish I had. I think that’s what we need more of, people doing what they wish they had: the type of support they wish they had, the type of representation they had as children, so that our next generations coming up can have access to that,” she said.
Jocelyn, as Jargie, is already making a positive difference. After a show in Seattle, a mom and daughter approached Jocelyn.
“The mom brought her daughter up and said to Jocelyn that she brought her here to see her on stage. So that her daughter would recognize herself on stage,” Steve said.
“We knew it was an important element to it, to hear it said so genuinely by a parent holding her child’s hand…to know that impact was being made, just from the advertising, that they brought her because they saw on the poster a young female hispanic scientist, was a really special moment.”
About Phantom Projects Theatre Group
This goal, this ideal of creating what doesn’t exist, being the support you want to see in the world, is one of the driving forces behind Phantom Projects.
Steve Cisneros started Phantom Projects as a teenager, right out of high school. He felt that the type of theater he and his peers needed or wanted to see didn’t exist – big shows were too expensive, and no one wanted to watch children’s theater. So he started his own theater group, staging plays about social issues affecting teenagers, which were written by his high school language arts teacher.
He took his message-based fledgling theater company on the road, and low and behold, it worked! They started adding shows, finding funding sources, and bringing their messages about bullying, racism, and science, to more and more students.
And now, 23 seasons later, Phantom Projects is thriving.
“Phantom Projects…is based in La Mirada, not too far from Torrance. Our goal and mission has always been to use the performing arts as a way to educate, teach, reach, motivate our audiences. So we choose shows that are based on literature, we have shows that are based on what middle schoolers and high schoolers are reading in school. By doing that we get to excite young people about not only the book they’re reading, but also the performing arts. And it’s a new way of seeing that stuff come to life. We find shows that will inspire audiences,” Steve Cisneros told TOCA Backstage.
And Jargie the Science Girl fits right in, spreading education and a love of theater, showing children all around the country that science is everywhere – and it’s for everyone.
From the Stage to the South Pole
Now Jocelyn is taking Jargie on the road – all the way to the South Pole! Jocelyn has joined PolarTREC where she’ll spend several weeks participating in hands-on field research in Antarctica alongside other scientists.
Jocelyn will head down south in December, returning in plenty of time for her January show in Torrance. Check back in with us on Facebook where we’ll follow along with her progress!
Tickets to see Jargie the Science Girl Available Now!
Jargie the Science Girl is a show for burgeoning scientists of all ages. Tickets for the shows on Sunday, January 26th at 2:00 & 5:00 pm, are available now! Bring the whole family for an afternoon of science and fun!