A funny and moving portrait of the unrequited life of Rosalind Franklin, one of the great female scientists of the twentieth century, and her fervid drive to map the contours of the DNA molecule.
Play Title: Photograph 51
Author (s): Anna Ziegler
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service Inc.
Publication Date: December 31st, 2011
Funders: Ensemble Studio Theatre and The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Funder: Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Primary Discipline: Genetics
Secondary Discipline: Biology
Rosalind Franklin – London native Rosalind Franklin earned her PhD in physical chemistry. Her research focused on X-ray crystallography and the structure of DNA.
James Watson – Chicago native, Watson studied the structural chemistry of nucleic acids and proteins. Working with Crick, they created the first model of DNA.
Frances Crick – English molecular biologist, biophysicist, and neuroscientist, Crick helped create the first model of DNA with Watson. Their model showed the double helix structure of DNA.
Linus Pauling – Oregon raised molecular chemist, Pauling’s work as a scientist focused on chemical compounds. In 1954 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry.
Maurice Wilkins – Nuclear Physicist, Wilkins was one of the first to discover that DNA could be studied through X-ray crystallography.
Source Texts: Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox, Rosalind Franklin & DNA by Anne Sayre, The Double Helix by James Watson, My Sister Rosalind Franklin by Jenifer Glynn
5 Men, 1 Woman
Rosalind Franklin, Maurice Wilkins, James Watson, Don Caspar, Ray Gosling, and Francis Crick.
Setting: London & Cambridge, UK: Kings College and Cambridge University
Time Period: 1951-53
Synopsis of Play: An intriguing portrait of British scientist Rosalind Franklin and her—often overlooked—role in the discovery of DNA’s double helix structure. This complex tale explores how Franklin, a smart, stubborn, and courageous woman, operated in a field dominated by men. A balance of the historical, romantic, and scientific, Photograph 51 is a touching human play of ideas
(Synopsis provided by New Play Exchange)
First Performance Date: October 27, 2010
First Producer: Ensemble Studio Theatre, New York City
Performance History: Photograph 51 was originally commissioned and produced by Active Cultures, the Vernacular Theatre of Maryland (Mary Resing, Director), opening on February 10, 2008. Photograph 51 won the 2008 STAGE International Scripts Competition and was developed, in part, through the University of California, Santa Barbara’s STAGE Project by the Professional Artists Lab (Nancy Kawalek, Director) and the California NanoSystems Institute. Photograph 51 received its New York premiere at the Ensemble Studio Theatre (William Carden, Artistic Director). The production was sponsored and developed by The Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science and Technology Project. Photograph 51 had its UK premiere at London’s Noël Coward Theatre on 5 September 2015. Nicole Kidman starred as Rosalind Franklin and Machael Grandage directed.
Entered by: Denise Gillman / Brooke Sanders