The Catalyst
The Catalyst

The Catalyst are pleased to announce the launch of Drop-in sessions in Geneva! Starting from March 1st, these sessions will be held at the University of Geneva, Centre Medical Universitaire. For more information follow this link to our new facebook group Catalyst-Geneva!


Published by Mark Venning-Slater

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Building on success throughout 2016, The Catalyst is excited to kick off 2017 with the second season of CatCave9. Get set to return to Cinema Oblo to witness improv that takes scientific discussion to unforeseen lateral heights! And also come to hear from our gifted speakers that give you a taste of their current research. For further information, please click on the CatCave9 tab above, or follow the link below:

NOTE: Please make sure that you arrive at the venue early. We can only take a limited number of spectators due to building restrictions, and we would hate to have to turn anyone away. Doors open at 19:00, and there is the bar to keep you company before the show starts at 20:00!


Published by Mark Venning-Slater

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2016 was a busy year for The Catalyst, and alas, not every project has been mentioned so far. However, we're still proud of them! Here is a list of events within which The Catalyst either devised, performed, or did a mixture of the two.

Catcave9 was launched! - Lausanne - January 2016

Our monthly science improv show at Cinema Oblo, which is now a roaring success!

Debunking Slam - Zurich - April 6 2016

The Catalyst performed at the second Debunking Slam in Zurich. Taking place at the BQm Kulturcafe & Bar on the ETH Zurich campus, four speakers debunked misconceptions on various topics, even working in Judas Priest lyrics! The Catalyst then devised, as is our custom, improv sketches based on these talks to entertain the audience and take the topics on new tangents. A big thank you to Skeptiker Schweiz for hosting us!

Workshops... Conferences... Trainings! - April and on!

We were invited to teach workshops on science communication, elevator pitching and presentation skills for CUSO, HEC Lausanne, iMM in Lisbon, at doctoral schools and events (e.g. Life Science Career Day) around Switzerland. A bit of business, but we are happy to spread the science-improv bug through these training courses!

Les Mystères de l'UNIL - June 2-5 2016

2016 saw the 11th edition of Les Mystères de l'UNIL that focussed on the theme of The City. Nearly 10,000 people, including 2200 students, participated in this open-door event at l'Université de Lausanne where 300 researchers put on 24 workshops and 9 laboratories to fascinate one and all.

For our part, The Catalyst was involved in devising and performing an interactive debate. This debate centered on an imaginary city that had just been discovered in the mountains of Switzerland. Due to the depletion of a mysterious mineral that had once protected the city, the inhabitants came to Lausanne to seek help in developing their city, Kryptopolis, to make it thrive once again. Students were asked to listen to arguments from different perspectives on urban development, including topics such as commercialism, electricity generation and transportation, and then to vote for their most preferred option. In this way they helped the inhabitants design the Kryptopolis of tomorrow. It was amazing to see how passionate the students were about designing the best city!

The Castle-yst: 1st annual Lac Leman Improv Retreat - June 17-19 2016

We brought together the Lac Leman improv community for a weekend of skill sharing and fun. We had the pleasure to welcome members from the Renegade Saints, Shark Pockets, ZigZag and of course us, The Catalyst. 

Applied Improv Network Annual Conference - Oxford, UK - Aug 11-4 2016

Two of our members went and represented at this amazing event, running a session on Science and Improv.

Science Slam - Basel - Oct 7 2016

As the Science Slam Basel team say:

"Giving excellent science talks is not magic, it's practice."

This was the second time The Catalyst has performed at Science Slam Basel, and for the second time we were met with contagious support and enthusiasm. Once again the speakers presented enlightening talks that both educated and entertained. It was clear that all of their practice led to some magical performances. Drawing on this inspiration, The Catalyst performed a series of improv sketches that were well received.

Lac Lemanapalooza! - Geneva - Nov 3 2016

We performed for charity at this event organized jointly with the Shark Pockets and Renegade Saints. We were thrilled to raise some money for Terre des Hommes, a charity that helps children in crisis. 

Exposure Science-Film Hackathon - Lausanne - Dec 2-4 2016

A rip-roaring successful collaboration with BSNL, supported by UNIL and EPFL. Check out the website here:

Watch the amazing videos!

Escape Game - Musée de zoologie - Lausanne

Dec 5 2016 - Aug 15 2017

This was a new concept for us that certainly broadened our science entertainment skills.

In collaboration with the Musée de zoologie in Lausanne, The Catalyst designed the Escape Game as an accompaniment to the museum's exhibition Parasites! Like other escape games, participants must use the information in the room and their intelligence to solve a series of puzzles, and finally to escape! Our game asks the potential escapees to become parasites; to infect the exhibition host; and to use the material displayed in the exhibition to proceed through puzzles and the parasitic life cycle to finally escape the host. This was a challenging project that pushed our creative and intellectual skills to the limit, and we're proud to have created our first escape game. Well, two actually. That run simultaneously in a large room full of interesting details that could be relevant to one escape game but not the other, or perhaps they're relevant to both and the host is throwing out red-herrings to slow us down so it can finally catch us in a dramatic crescendo finale. Or not. My head is spinning.


Published by Mark Venning-Slater

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The much anticipated Exposure Science Film Hackathon took place this month and produced 9 amazing films. 36 participants worked for 3 days to create films on time, emergent properties and bacteria. The films were judged by a panel of experts on Sunday 4th December and two groups were awarded the jury prize:

Carbon Capture Storage by Cut it out

and Quorum sensing by Self organised

Three days later the films wre shown at Cinema Cityclub in Pully and once more the two top films could not be separated! The audience voted and with exactly the same number of votes each the winners were:

Quorum sensing by Self organised

and Better together by Ka.os

The cinema was almost at capacity and the films were universally loved. All films will be available online in the coming week or two (see

Thanks to all the people who came to the shows, all the people who supported the event and all the participants. We are already planning Exposure 2017!!


Published by Robbie I'Anson Price

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We are very excited to be teaming up with Lac Leman's improv community to be showcasing our scientific improv skills for a grand charity show on 3rd November at Théâtre de Carouge, Geneva.

In this one-night-only spectacular, you will see us, the Shark Pockets and Renegade Saints, exhibiting our different improv stylings for your entertainment, and the charities of our choice.

We welcome you to Théâtre de Carouge on Thursday 3rd Novemberwith doors opening at 19:30.

Tickets on the door are 10 CHF. The profits of the show will be going directly to charity. 

Comment, share and find out more at: 

Also, follow the links to our amazing collaborators:








Published by Mark Venning-Slater

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The Catalyst has teamed up with Bio Science Network Lausanne to create an event unlike any other. Scientists and artists from around Switzerland will come together to produce short films on complex scietific subjects aimed at members of the public.

The 3 day event will also invite an amazing set of mentors in various aspects at the intersection of science communication and the arts. We are so excited to see what this event can produce!

If you are interested in taking part please visit the website and complete the application form (click image below to go to the website).

If you are interested in viewing the films that the event creates then we have a public showing at Cinema Club Pully on Dec 7th (click image below for more details).


Published by Robbie I'Anson Price

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Little is known about the day to day lives of scientists. They are often shrouded in mystery and what little information we have only leads to more questions....


Robbie I'Anson Price takes you on a journey into his day to day life as a PhD student studying honey bee behaviour.

Studying bees means that you can say goodbye to your summer plans relaxing on the beach. Honey bee behaviour is best studied during the mostly good summer weather. During this period one must monitor each colony weekly, keep the colonies in good health and prepare them for experimentation, not to mention carry out the experiments!

How does a colony of more than 20,000 bees function without centralised control? How related to each other are the bees in a colony? What happens to a colony if the queen is kidnapped?

Find the answers to all these questions and so many more through this amazing VLOG!

The bees life is like a magic well: the more you draw from it the more it fills with water
— Karl von Frisch

Published by Robbie I'Anson Price

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From episode 3 (March, 2016): Our exploration of ants in the rainforest canopy [on Dane's head]. Thanks to monologist Nic Plowman! 

(First few minutes = Nic's talk; the rest = our re-interpretation!)


Published by Adria Le Boeuf

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CatCave9 continues with more science and more improv! This set of episodes tips the balance toward long-form improv with 3 whole long forms and a handful of short forms per show. Wow! 


Published by Adria Le Boeuf

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It's been more than a year since our last pure-improv show, and we are thrilled to say we'll be having monthly improv shows at the Cinema Obló in Lausanne starting January 21st! 


Published by Alex Seeholzer

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Have you ever been to a science slam? It's kind of like a bunch of science TED talks where the scientist-speakers are competing against one another to give the most entertaining and interesting talk and the audience judges. Sounds fun, no? 

The Catalyst will be joining the folks at the University of Basel for their Science Slam on December 16th, but instead of slamming ourselves, we'll be doing a bit of improv about the slams in between the talks. We are stoked! 



Published by Adria Le Boeuf

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A few months ago we were contacted by the organizers of EPFL's Closing ceremony for the International Year of Light. They had put together an amazing event with a great, while notably all male, line-up of speakers and they were looking for some light-hearted science communicators to bring their event to life: enter The Catalyst. 

Over the past month we've been developing sketches around the ideas of the different talks and generally having a lot of fun. The event itself takes place December 5th, 2015, at the EPFL's Rolex Learning Center and it is free! You can get tickets here:


Published by Adria Le Boeuf

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Our creation Blue Butterfly will be performed again in collaboration with the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT) event RECHERCHE LIVE in Lausanne at La Grange de Dorigny October 1-3, 2015. 

More details and ticket sales are on the Blue Butterfly website!

Press about Blue Butterfly

Blue Butterfly is the story of a young family grappling with demanding careers, an abnormal child, and fundamental forces of nature. Natalie and Simon are struggling scientists who resort to TEDx talks and TV to thrust their research into the spotlight, while their brilliant but dangerous seven-year-old daughter gravitates towards her grandmother's mystical beliefs. Their research into cancer, parasitism, and immunology echoes the complex dynamics of a family blind to their own dysfunction. 

When life spirals into crisis, we must ask ourselves: what do we want to believe?


Published by Adria Le Boeuf

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Blue Butterfly 
by Richard Crane & The Catalyst, scripted play 

In collaboration with renowned playwright Richard Crane and boundary-crossing director Ailin Conant, The Catalyst has devised a new theater piece about acceptance in biology, in society, and in our belief systems.

This piece premiered at Theatre Pitoëff in Geneva, April 29th, 2015, where it ran through May 2nd. This was followed by a brief run in Lausanne at the Grange de Dorigny from May 8-10, 2015.

More details, photos, and press on the Blue Butterfly website!

Blue Butterfly is the story of a young family grappling with demanding careers, an abnormal child, and fundamental forces of nature. Natalie and Simon are struggling scientists who resort to TEDx talks and TV to thrust their research into the spotlight, while their brilliant but dangerous seven-year-old daughter gravitates towards her grandmother's mystical beliefs. Their research into cancer, parasitism, and immunology echoes the complex dynamics of a family blind to their own dysfunction. 

When life spirals into crisis, we must ask ourselves: what do we want to believe?

#play, #scripted

Published by Ivaylo Getov

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Our performance at Zelig was amazing! The seats were full of people - thanks to everyone who came with inspiration and energy. We are looking forward to continuing this type of performance next year with brand new material, as always!


20h00, December 3rd, 2014 


Facebook event page


Published by Adria Le Boeuf

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An Enemy of the People
by Henrik Ibsen, adapted and directed by Adria C. Le Boeuf.

Performed at the Fécule Festival at La Grange de Dorigny May 4th, 2014 and at the EPFL Salle Polyvalente May 14-15th, 2014. 

The new startup incubator BioInnovate is ready for their first major success story. The Emote, a novel brain-machine interface to treat depression and other mental illnesses, is just finishing clinical trials when the outspoken and charismatic Dr. Elise Stockmann, staff scientist, reveals what she thinks may be very serious behavioural side-effects. At first hailed as excellent news, considering the product hasn’t yet gone to market, soon everyone in the small entrepreneurial community has turned on her, trying to keep her quiet for the good of the company–and for the good of everyone’s wallet. 

This adaptation of Ibsen’s classic play about the failings of the majority is here transposed into our time and set in our hypothetical backyard. If we were stockholders, would we want Dr. Stockmann kept quiet?

« The majority is never right. That's one of these lies in society that no free and intelligent person can help rebelling against. Who are the people that make up the biggest proportion of the population -- the intelligent ones or the fools? »

Watch a video of the full performance above.

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A Catalyst-devised, semi-improvised play. 

The process of science is creative and difficult in unexpected ways, ways rarely portrayed in the media. In Puppet Theories, we explore the complex themes and characters we find daily in the research community. An exploration of the unknown, while beautiful and heroic, is often a thankless task, a bit like a search for something of unknown shape, size, or location in the midst of a great fog. Big egos and the need for recognition and fame are rampant, and yet everything, even back-stabbing, is perceived as part of the search for ultimate truth. 

Watch a video of the full performance above.

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