Photograph 51 by Anna Ziegler coming to Seattle Rep February 1

The Ensemble Studio Theatre and The Sloan Foundation are pleased to support the forthcoming production by the Seattle Repertory Theatre of Photograph 51 by Anna Ziegler (February 1 – March 3). Photograph 51 had its New York premiere in October 2010 at The Ensemble Studio Theatre as an EST/Sloan Project Mainstage Production directed by Linsay Firman. Two of the featured performers in that acclaimed production, Kristen Bush (Rosalind Franklin) and Haskell King (James Watson), will return to the EST stage this month in the 2013 EST/Sloan Mainstage Production, Isaac’s Eye, also directed by Firman.

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During the run of Photograph 51 at EST, EST/Sloan hosted a heated but enlightening panel discussion about the issues behind the play moderated by EST/Sloan consulting scientist, Stuart Firestein. The panelists included New York Times science reporter Nicholas Wade (“The idea that [Franklin] was robbed of credit is incorrect.”), Franklin biographer Lynne Elkin (”I do not think they have treated her properly.”), crystallography expert Helen Berman, and playwright Ziegler. Scientific American recorded the discussion which you can listen to as a Science Talk podcast

The EST production was remounted for the 2011 World Science Festival in New York City, where James Watson, Donald Caspar and Raymond Gosling discussed the play in a panel following one of the performances. You can read memorable quotes from their exchanges here. “[T]he thing that annoyed the boys with their toys was that she had a separate life, a personal life, which grubby little physicists . . . couldn’t afford to have."—Raymond Gosling, who was a twenty-five-year-old “PhD slave boy” when he was assigned to work with Franklin in 1951 at the King’s College lab.

Reviewing the EST production, New Scientist wrote “who knew science could make for such terrific theater?”  Nature found the play “witty and poignant” and Science reported that it “provides an emotional journey into the complex realities of laboratory science.”  More reviews and background material on the play can be found here.

In 2011 Ziegler was awarded a grant from the Tribeca Film Institute Sloan Filmmaker Fund to develop a screenplay of Photograph 51 for a film in which Rachel Weisz is slated to star.

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Photograph 51 always foments discussion and Seattle Rep will be hosting a panel discussion following the matinee performance on Sunday, February 17 about the role of women in science today. A featured panelist will be Dr. Leroy Hood (MD, PhD), President and co-founder of the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle. Dr. Hood's research at Caltech resulted in the development of the DNA sequencer and synthesizer and the protein synthesizer and sequencer—four instruments that paved the way for the successful mapping of the human genome. Dr. Hood was recently awarded the 2012 National Medal of Science by President Obama.

Originally commissioned and produced by Active Cultures Theatre in Maryland, Photograph 51 won the 2008 STAGE International Competition for the best script about science and technology (judged by John Guare, David Auburn and David Lindsay-Abaire, along with two Nobel Laureates). It has also been produced at the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles, directed by Simon Levy, and Theater J in Washington DC, directed by Daniella Topol.