Play title:  Maize

Author (s):  Judith Pratt

Representation: For more information email

Genre: Drama

Primary Discipline: Genetics

Scientist (s):

Barbara McClintock – Awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1983, McClintock work specialized in genetics. She spent her career studying the hereditary characteristics of maize shown through their kernels. She is known for her research that proved the importance of transposable elements, jumping genes. 

Nina Fedoroff – Molecular biologist known for her research in transposable elements, jumping genes, and her study into the genetic control of crop pests. She was awarded the National Medal of Science by President George W. Bush in 2007.

James Watson – Chicago native, Watson studied the structural chemistry of nucleic acids and proteins. Credited for co-creating he first 3D model of DNA.

Marcus Rhoades – Long-time friend of McClintock, Rhoades was a cytogeneticist. Specializing in cytoplasmic male sterility in maize. This study is vital to understanding genetics and plant breeding. 

Character Breakdown:

Barbara McClintock: 70-90. A plant geneticist. Small, energetic. Sharp and intense, both physically and mentally.

Young Barbara McClintock: 30-50. A younger version of Barbara. Same exact clothes — short-sleeved cotton shirt and khaki slacks. Often, she is as Barbara remembers he younger self.

Nina: Early 30s. A molecular biologist. Gently determined

Jim: 40s. Once a young genius, now trying to become a good manager. Bumptious, tries to be jovial, but not mean.

Marcus: 70-80. A plant geneticist, professor, and long-time friend of Barbara. Genial, a natural facilitator.

(Character Breakdown provided by play text)

Setting: The stage has several areas, dominated by a cornfield: 

The lab. A long table with papers, sample boxes, and a microscope. A coffeepot. 

The Symposium, maybe outdoors. 

A lectern 

(Setting provided by play text)

Time Period: 1930-1992

Synopsis of Play: Why does a brilliant and well-regarded scientist stop publishing? Faced with a threat to her work and her future, Barbara struggles against her past. A drama about how we can sabotage ourselves, and about the difficulty of being a feminist icon.

(Synopsis provided by New Play Exchange)

First Performance Date: 2018

First Producer: Cornell University, Risley Theatre 

Performance History: Premiering at the Risley Theatre at Cornell University, Barbara McClintock’s alma mater, Maize was awarded the Playwriting Prize at Louisiana State University’s SciArts Festival. That same year, Maize was a semi-finalist in the Mach 33: Caltech/Pasadena Playhouse Festival of New Science-Driven Plays, and a finalist for the TRU Play Reading Series


Entered by: Anna Galanides

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