“The instant I saw the photograph my mouth fell open and my pulse began to race.”
About the work
Welcome to the Michael Grandage Company’s production of Photograph 51 by Anna Ziegler
Does Rosalind Franklin know how precious her photograph is? In the race to unlock the secret of life it could be the one to hold the key. With rival scientists looking everywhere for the answer, who will be first to see it and, more importantly, understand it?
Anna Ziegler’s extraordinary play looks at the woman who cracked DNA and asks what is sacrificed in the pursuit of science, love and a place in history.
“I read Photograph 51 and liked it instantly. Theatrically, it was constructed rather like a thriller. It’s a true and terrible story of injustice, in which this woman scientist, Rosalind Franklin, who was operating entirely in a man’s world, found herself competing in a race to discover “the secret of life”.
Nobody knew how DNA was constructed and she took a series of X-ray photographs, of which number 51 was the clearest, and it enabled scientists to see how the structure of DNA worked for the first time. The photograph she took showed DNA to be made up of a double helix and it enabled two scientists in particular, Francis Crick and James Watson, to build a model based on that information. Both men went on to win the Nobel Prize.
Rosalind Franklin died young but her research and her photographs are now believed to have played a significant part in the discovery. It’s thrilling to tell her story on stage for the first time.”Michael Grandage, Artistic Director, MGC