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Photograph 51

A Staged Reading Produced by The Theatre School of DePaul University

Photograph 51 tells the dramatic tale of the race to the double helix in the years between 1951 and 1953, when Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins were using X-ray diffraction to take images of DNA. The play is named after one particular photograph that showed its helical structure with striking clarity, which inspired James Watson and Francis Crick to build their double helix model. The researchers’ papers all came out in the same issue of Nature. But by the time the Nobel Prize was awarded for the work in 1962, Franklin had died (at the age of 37) from ovarian cancer, leaving Watson, Crick and Wilkins to share the prize. Photograph 51 deals with the complex personal interactions between Franklin, a pioneering woman scientist, and her male colleagues during the time of this monumental discovery.

Press Excerpts
“An illuminating kind of theatrical X-ray… In Ziegler’s taut yet graceful script, a fine choice by [Seattle] Rep, Franklin’s passion for science also shines through, as does the agility of her inquiring mind…Photograph 51 neatly coils a scientific detective story around a rumination on how sexism, personality and morality can impact collaboration and creativity…It honors Franklin by painting her as a complete person, with flaws and sterling attributes, and by evoking the thrills and risks of scientific pursuit itself.” — The Seattle Times

A powerful new play…Ziegler has produced a witty and poignant account of the controversy surrounding DNA’s discovery.” — Nature

Bracingly intelligent” — The Boston Globe

About the Theatre School of DePaul University

Acclaimed as “a legendary training ground” (Chicago Tribune), The Theatre School was founded as the Goodman School of Drama in 1925, and joined DePaul University in 1978. A fully-accredited school within a major urban university, The Theatre School is the Midwest’s oldest theatre conservatory and is renowned as one of the top professional theatre training programs in the United States.