You probably don’t know the name Rosalind Franklin.
But you should.
In the early 1950s, it was the British biophysicist’s picture of an X-ray image that uncovered DNA’s double-helix makeup. The image was called Photo 51.
The men who subsequently won the Nobel Prize for the DNA discovery used the picture without her knowledge or permission to develop the chemical model of DNA.
She became a footnote; the men got all the glory.
Live Theatre Workshop’s production of “Photograph 51” is playwright Anna Ziegler’s take on Franklin’s story and the men who grabbed the attention without a nod to her work.
We asked director Sabian Trout to give us four reasons to see the production, which opens in previews today.
Here’s what she said:
1. “It’s exciting. At it’s core, ‘Photograph 51’ is about a race — for both scientific achievement and personal glory — and the show vibrates with a sense of cutthroat ambition.”
2. “The play brings history to life — and makes it not only relevant, but provocative. To be clear, the play is a work of fiction, based on a true story. Anna Ziegler has both altered and imagined events, for the sake of creating engaging theatre. The result is a fabulous story, crisply told.”
3. “ ‘Photograph 51’ isn’t just a play about unlocking the mystery of DNA replication or ‘the secret of life’ — it unlocks the personal secrets of some of (arguably) the greatest mental giants of the 20th century. In doing so, it also sneakily challenges audiences to consider what they personally value — who and what really matters in their own lives.”
4. “While the play is intelligent and has science at its core, the piece is very accessible; very human. Rosalind Franklin was a smart, stubborn, fiercely independent, courageous woman working in a field entirely dominated by men. The play illuminates her fierce spirit, and the challenges she faced in both her professional and personal relationships.”