Frank Basloe’s new play–PLEASE CONTINUE–about the famed experiments run by Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram questions our obedience to authority. In the Ensemble Studio Theatre production post World War II, Milgram investigated this human phenomenon. The experiment was set up with an “Experimenter” and a “Learner.” The Experimenter was instructed to punish the Learner with electric shocks every time he answered a question incorrectly, and in most cases did so despite the Learner’s increasingly desperate-sounding pleas. Over 50% of the Experimenters obeyed the parameters of the experiment and punished the Learner severely.
Following a performance of PLEASE CONTINUE on February 27, a panel of acclaimed scientists discussed the science in the play at the Ensemble Studio Theatre. Moderated by Scientific American’s Steve Mirsky, the conversation was excerpted on his podcast “60-Second Science.” The panel featured Mt. Sinai neuroscientist Heather Berlin, who wrote for Science & Film about a psychiatric delusion in Charlie Kauffman’s ANOMALISA. She deconstructed why Milgram’s experiment saw such a high rate of conformity to authority, and what could have been going on in the subjects’ brain. The minute-long podcast episode can be streamed below. Science & Film conducted an exclusive interview with playwright Frank Basloe in February.