After Two Previews: PHOTOGRAPH 51 Responses

Eager to hear back from audiences, young and old, who’ve taken in our first two previews of Anna Ziegler’s wonderful PHOTOGRAPH 51. What’s been fascinating is the ways in which this play, adapted very much from a variety of histories about Rosalind Franklin and the “race” to map the contours of DNA and reimagined by a dynamic playwright into a synthesis of deeply researched and reinvented history, bears a resemblance to the two other adaptations we’ve produced this calendar year, RETURN TO HAIFA and THE CHOSEN (running for 4 more performances through Sunday — and note, 3 of the 4 shows are now officially SOLD OUT!). Would love to hear other peoples’ takes on this burgeoning genre — the inventively reimagined historical drama — and the artistic and cultural usefulness of both honoring and deviating from the historical record. That’s just one of the topics that came up last in our talk-back with the audience in conversation with playwright and also with director Daniella Topol.

Meanwhile, beautiful pix have come in. Here’s another.

Looking forward to your thoughts!

21 thoughts on “After Two Previews: PHOTOGRAPH 51 Responses

  1. Anna Ziegler’s Photograph 51 was an interesting departure from other plays we have seen this semester. Photograph was the first time this semester we’ve seen a play grounded in the life and accomplishments of a female character. Ziegler structured the narrative of the play in a way unlike the unique directness of Marcus or the traditional narrative styles of Return to Haifa and The Chosen. This fragmentation, while sometimes jarring (as when directly confronted by characters), allowed the story to move swiftly; this swiftness created an environment as quickly paced as the one in which Franklin is stumbling upon discoveries. I was intrigued, after witnessing the greatest accomplishment of Franklin’s life, two scorned potential-lovers, and her ultimate death, that the audience still knew very little of its heroine. Despite all of the milestones, events, and history that Photograph 51’s Franklin is defined by, Ziegler interestingly keeps the character shrouded in mystery: At the conclusion of the play, the audience has learned little (if anything) about Franklin. As frustrating as this initially seemed, the stagnation of Rosalind’s personal life was juxtaposed with the consistent evolution, the constant state of change that was descending all around her professional life. Ziegler posed the story of a woman whose life was consistently intercepted by the people and issues that bordered her personhood. The story of her life – an experience dissected by her acquaintances and presented almost as a scientific lecture – was a challenging experience as an audience member because insight into a character who lacked ownership over her own narrative was rarely offered. By the same token, this became an interesting character study about a woman who didn’t easily offer insight into her life.

  2. I have always been drawn to strong female characters in history, literature and theatre. Figures such as Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth I, Elizabeth Blackwell and Madeline Albright were always my preference to research and report on when I had the option in high school. No surprise then, that I very much appreciated Thursday’s preview of Photograph 51 as a portrayal of the classic battle brilliant strong women were forced to fight when being the first woman to break into male-dominated fields. I recognize this particular play was more than just a biography of Rosalind Franklin. I am not a scientist in the least, but watching the dramatization of the race to discover the double helix was highly entertaining on its own, despite my penchant for stories with strong female characters. I particularly enjoyed James Flanagan’s performance as Watson. His performance, in my opinion, was seamless due to his very specific choices about the character’s distinct behaviors, making him not only totally believable but also completely annoying. Ultimately though, the very gendered plot line is what drew me in the most about Photograph 51, specifically because I found myself not liking Rosalind that much. She was frustratingly closed off, cold and even bordering rude at times, and I don’t think she should have been portrayed any differently. By having a female protagonist as antagonistic as she was, it forces us as the audience to be reminded of the stereotypes we have on successful women and just women in general. For some reason women are supposed to be either nice and nurturing or attractive and demure and those who don’t fit that profile are criticized and/or ostracized. I had a very difficult time reconciling the fact that while I didn’t particularly like Rosalind, I was undoubtedly rooting for her. Which is one of the better lessons in the play, in my opinion. Hard work and brilliance should be rewarded, whether or not the person is entirely pleasant and whether or not the person is a man or a woman.

  3. I really appreciate Kristen’s analysis of Rosalind Franklin’s character. She put into words what I had been grappling with since viewing the play on Thursday night. Dr. Franklin is cold, harsh, unapologetic, and undeniably brilliant. For most of the play, I punished her for this combination—I criticized her inability to collaborate and share her research with the other scientists. If she had been able to, I thought, she would certainly have won the Nobel along with them. I also criticized her personality and faulted her alone for the fact that Watson and Crick went behind her back to create the double helix model.

    However, now that I am reflecting on the play, I realize that I would have viewed the character in an entirely different light were she a he instead. As a male, Dr. Franklin would have been revered for his independence and firm beliefs. I am a little upset with myself for expecting her to be stereotypically female-subservient, accommodating, pleasant even. She was first a scientist, and that was something I, along with the other characters, often lost sight of.

    On another note, I would be curious to ask the playwright about her choice to portray Crick as the sidekick. I am not very familiar with the historical context, so perhaps the portrayal of his relationship to Watson was accurate, but he is a very flat character. Toward the end of the play, we get a small insight into his world when he opens up about his wife moving all of her things into the guest room without him noticing. This reveals how taxing their work has been, and how much of himself he put into the process. The play left me wanting more from him, he is a refreshing contrast to Watson and I would have liked his character to be developed more.

  4. When I found out Photograph 51 was one of the plays we were seeing I was instantly intrigued and anxious to watch the performance. I had studied the discovery of the double helix, and the controversy of who really “discovered” DNA- Watson & Crick or Rosalind in my Molecular Cell Biology class at Berkeley. I read the same book Ziegler read The Double Helix written by James Watson. Watson in the book very much like the play depicted Rosalind as an intelligent and cold alpha female. Unlike the play, in the book Watson actually exposed a humorous personality of Rosalind that was not emphasized in the play. In the play Watson came off as this self-rightous and profound person, which I found annoying, but in the book you can see his humbleness and he in fact admits that he owed it to Rosalind for his accomplishments. I enjoyed the play greatly, because it was refreshing to have a strong female character as central to the play. Contrary to what some have said that Rosalind was way too closed off and often irritating, I actually interpreted her constant habit of putting up a defense as a strong indicator of her hunger to be loved and appreciated. She wanted to make sure that her male colleagues saw her potential and did not allow the gender factor to blindsight her accomplishments. At the end of the play, I saw Rosalind as anything but cold. In fact everyone loved her, no matter how much Rosalind was in denial of this truth. Of course watching the play, the audience most likely was turned off by her blunt and straight-forward remarks, but given the circumstance of competing in a male dominated field she eventually humbled herself in the process. There was a very deep life lesson embedded in this play that many can relate to, and the play could not have not articulated better that, “the things we want but cannot have is what defines us”.

  5. As my brilliant colleagues have already stated in a variety of ways, the play was a pleasure to watch and peaked a vast amount of internal thought. I love Rosalind’s character. She was probably the most naturally funny character that we have encountered this semester on Theater J’s stage. Other than her innate humor, I appreciate her complexity. She was a meticulous and passionate woman in her field. I agree with Natalie’s comment, had she been a man we would have disregarded her coldness for the mark of genius.

    Beyond being a woman in her field, she was a human that felt a call on her life. I believe this was best expressed in the scene where she calling the laboratory from the mountains. I am not sure how many people know what it feels like to wake up with the belief that you have something you are suppose to deposit to the world. It feels as if you have the key to something larger than yourself. And you cannot cease until you unveil this key that you have not completely formulated but know that you have, and if you fail you will feel forever plagued by limitation. The desire to unlock a box or door that you are uncertain of but know that you must can border on an addiction.

    I saw this, combined with what Chanel pointed out about a woman desiring to be loved. It is tiring to have a purpose, to have your guard up constantly, and to fight for something that you know that you must pursue without being completely sure of what it is. Rosalind said that she woke up with an immense weight on her shoulders; I think that this can be associated with being one of the few women in her field, but it is more so related to this purpose I have been describing. I say this because those who make history rarely consciously realize that they are making history.

    Rosalind as a living character is an image of art that portrays a collage of human experience for those careful enough to notice. I am not sure why her coldness did not bother me. This is not to say that I did not want her to let others in, I guess I just understand how difficult it is to lower one’s guard no matter who it is. (Maybe I was comforted by her British accent; I have a lot of family in England.) I am just left in awe of purpose driven genius.

  6. Similar to Kristen and Natalie’s responses, I base my experience of the piece on Rosalind’s character. However, unlike Kristen’s description of how Rosalind “drew her in,” I was pushed away. From one of the first scenes where Rosalind patronized Dr. Wilkins for going to lunch where only men were allowed. I was immediately turned off from Rosalind’s character and had a closed mind for the remainder of the show because of this. I saw Rosalind struggling in an unconventional realm for women at the time, and I saw her acting bold and strong like a man. However, had she embraced parts of her femininity, perhaps by being more collaborative or compromising, then she would have been able to get to the finish line first and been happier along the way—and more enjoyable to those around her as well. But, that is just my opinion.

    While I struggled through the piece with Rosalind, I found comfort in the minor, yet imperative role, of Gosling, the graduate student working in the lab with both Dr. Franklin and Dr. Wilkins. His candid demeanor and frequent quips kept my interest, and brought me to laughter. I appreciated this role because it gave the piece a lighter feel during many scenes. Without his commentary, I don’t think the play would have moved along as well. I guess you could say I took refuge in Gosling throughout the piece.

  7. Before I had a chance to view the play Photograph 51, I had already heard of the story behind the theft of Ms. Rosalind’s discoveries on DNA structure. I was told in my old high school biology class of the credit that Watson and Crick had received. But honestly, no where did I think that I would view a play on the issue, in Washington DC no less!
    Overall I really thought this was a solid success as a play.
    The character development is definitely one the highlights of the play. Dr. Rosalind’s character is portrayed as a women who is very serious in her research and does not make time for much else in her life. In fact, I believe her being so focused and essentially obsessed with the DNA really hurt her more than helped.
    It seemed that Rosalind never lived a complete life. She never had fun, did not have the opportunity to raise a family, and consequently she suffered at the end with her cancer. I understand that women in the those times were not given that same respect when it came to science, but to me it seemed that Rosalind was really a victim of her own personality.
    It is interesting to see how Rosalind, I believe, limited herself and her stubbornness also maybe resulted in Watson and Crick being more clever in being able to steal the research.
    The stage made for a great set up as well. It was simple, with a tanish color background, but it seemed to really add to the play. The elevated platforms also helped set up different scenes in the play.
    Photograph 51 was one the better plays I have seen in my time in Washington DC.

  8. This production was interesting and engaging. I have never viewed a play where the actors not involved in the current scene stay on the stage in the background instead of exiting. This set this play apart from others, and I believe it enhanced the relationships between the characters for the audience. With this method the audience could watch the two or three characters interacting in the lighted part of the stage, and at the same time witness the reactions of the other characters watching the scene. For example there is a scene where Dr. Franklin is arguing with Dr. Wilkins and just outside the lighting the characters of Watson and Crick glance at one another and smirk, as if the divisions between Wilkins and Franklin enhance their own progress in the “race” for the structure of DNA. I appreciated that Rosalind was a strong female character who like the real Dr. Rosalind Franklin was not easily intimidated as a very small minority in a male dominated field. I also liked the personal insights between the characters and the audience in the middle of a scene or even in the middle of dialogue, it made the play engaging and exciting, it also allowed the audience to feel more included in this play that centers around very complicated scientific subject matter. It was interesting how the play subtly, yet poignantly, touched on the fact that Rosalind was Jewish, and how the aftermath of WWII may have affected her outlook. I especially liked the scene toward the beginning where Wilkins asks Rosalind tactlessly why she went to France during the war to work in the lab instead of staying in Britain for “Queen and Country”, Rosalind quickly replies that she did more for scientific progress in Paris then she ever could have in England as women were not allowed in the research labs. This play was extremely well written and well acted, and I appreciated learning about how the set design and the lighting strategies enhanced the narrative in the talk back after the play.

  9. “Photograph 51” was a unique departure from the Theater J productions I’ve seen this semester. Yet, like past productions, it told a heartfelt story of facing adversity. What is most interesting to me about the play is the social aspect of the scientific community. From Watson’s attempts to get information from Wilkins, to the tension between Rosalind and Wilkins, there was constantly drama unfolding amidst one of the greatest scientific discoveries.

    Because the field of science is inherently social (from the peer review process to collaborative fellowships and conferences), it complicates the way a story is told. Like Chanel, I have also read The Double Helix by James Watson. In the post-show discussion, the playwright acknowledged her departure from history in writing the play, and audience members spoke out against and in favor of the liberties she takes with the characters.

    While I acknowledge the technical inaccuracies and the multiple perspectives this history has, I thought the liberties the playwright took enhanced the overall story that was being told. I didn’t appreciate the play as an exact history of DNA’s discovery. Rather, I appreciated it just for being a great story full of dynamic characters (although I must add here that I do agree with Natalie; I also thought Crick was a flat character).

    The actress that portrayed Rosalind Franklin gave a particularly moving performance. I loved her complexity. I couldn’t quite decide if I hated her or really sympathized with her. The actor playing Watson was so entertaining–I could just feel his desire to make a famous discovery. Overall, I really enjoyed the performance and felt the presence of each actor on the stage at all times really enhanced the storytelling effect.

  10. This past Thursday I walked into Theater J without any expectations of preconceived notions about Photograph 51. I hadn’t heard of the production and therefore entered with a truly blank slate. However, I was admittedly filled with a sizable amount of trepidation when I glanced through the program. Could I really enjoy an entire play about the discovery of the structure of DNA? My natural science shortcomings and disdain for any study of the subject of DNA led me to believe that I was in for a rather arduous 90 minutes.

    Having admitted my lack of knowledge and slight prejudice after literally judging a book (or play) by its cover, I was delightfully surprised. The overarching themes of a woman breaking into a man’s field and the isolation that individuals can feel as a result of such devotion to work far outshined the science specifics.

    I was incredibly impressed by the performance handed in by the actress playing Rosalind Franklin. She had a way of truly taking command of a scene. When she spoke she made sure the audience was actively listening.

    I also appreciated the set design and lighting of the performance. The elevated levels symbolizing a literal and metaphoric difference in social position helped make a small space work in a great way. Also the decision to use light as a way to set degrees of audience focus was a clever yet subtle touch. Especially when you consider how précises lighting was so important to the discovery of the DNA structure.

    Finally, I appreciated the post show discussion. Being able to hear from the screenwriter why the play has evolved or changed over the few years of its existence was very insightful. I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion of whether or not the liberties she took influenced audience reception of the play. I personally believed her adaptations helped build the plays power and meaning, and therefore didn’t detract from the overall experience. However, this could be because I approached the story with very little background information. I’d be intrigued to know if someone who knew the real life story of Miss Franklin was put off by the changes that the playwright decided to make?

    I appreciate work that admits its still changing and evolving. Photograph 51 may be a story about something in the past, but it’s continually maturing adaptation keeps the story fresh and thought-provoking.

  11. When I entered the theater to see Photograph 51, I was unsure of what I would think. My class had just seen The Chosen and it was by far my favorite play we had seen all semester. I didn’t think anything could top it, but I was wrong. The Theater J production of Photograph 51 touched me in so many different ways. I almost don’t know where to begin when writing this blog post.

    During our post show discussion, someone in the audience asked about the choice to show Watson and Crick building the double helix in the dark alongside Rosalind’s date. To me, this was a very fascinating choice that I really appreciated. I felt that Rosalind was finally getting out of her comfort zone. Up until this point in the play we had almost always seen her in the lab or outside talking about her work in the lab. I felt at this time she was actually living her life and at this moment where she finds herself stepping out of the lab into a real life scenario, Rosalind gets beat in her life’s work, building the structure of DNA. This is what made the comparison so compelling to me. The one time we do not see Rosalind working in the lab is the time when she gets beat in her own life’s work. It added even more sadness to the moment when we find out she has the cancer that ultimately leads to her death.

    The story was extremely compelling. I really felt Rosalind’s isolation because she is a woman in a man’s world and Wilkins’ longing to be friends, or more, with her. I felt myself rooting for them to finish their work first even though I knew that Watson and Crick have been given credit for creating the double helix. I really loved the play.

  12. I, like Dan and some of the other students, had no expectations of the show. It was new to me and I did not know the story very well…at all actually. What really helped me grasp the story, besides the performance, was the post show discussion. There have been instances this year where many of my peers have expressed strong feelings on the post show discussions (both pro and con). This play especially helped me deviate from what was fact and what information was altered. Many plays, movies, shows, etc are adapted to appease the audience or add entertainment value or intrigue to the story. I am glad the script was explained in more detail from the director and writer.

    The most interesting part of Photograph 51 at Theater J to me was the stage set up and the prominent role lighting and placement played in the performance. The stage was set up differently than all the other shows I have seen. The Chosen’s stage set up was probably more appealing to me but I enjoyed Photograph 51’s set up very much. There were different levels and platforms that represented rising and distance for the characters. Another interesting part of the play was the fact that the characters remained on stage almost the entire time even if they were not part of a scene. The lighting was used to emphasize dramatic and climatic scenes.

    Photograph 51 was a good story of a woman breaking through in a male dominated field and trying to cope with a possible love interest and a sickness while trying to focus and dedicate her strength and time to her work & research. Throughout this semester we have seen many male dominated plays but this show was a good change of pace. Although the performance itself was probably not my favorite, Photograph 51 offered new elements to my theater going experience and allowed me to see new aspects offered through the performing arts.

  13. Photograph 51 was an interesting experience for me. As a infant theatergoer, I feel that my tastes were not well suited for this performance. That is, I was unable to use the theatrical elements to enhance my understanding of the play. For instance, some of my classmates commented on the lights. I was unable to connect the lighting to the pace or the development of the plot. I am not sure what this indicates…

    As far as the story itself, I found it frustrating. Rosalind’s character was rather distinct and well defined, but perhaps too extreme. Besides for rare moments, it was difficult for me to connect to the story through her eyes because of her guardedness, and self righteousness. I was confused by the fact that someone could be so immersed in work for work’s sake. I did not get the feeling that she loved her work, but rather loved having work, or had no other true passions. In light of the deep meaning embodied by the pursuit of the helix, this did not sit well with me. However, I know others would disagree with my judgement of her.

    • The most interesting contrast to me was in fact the search for the “meaning of life”. The passionate pursuit of this elusive truth was headed by people who hadn’t seemed to find much value in their own personal lives. Rosalind’s own emotional state was rather confused, and from an outsiders perspective, it seemed painful. Perhaps that is why the author chose to portray her character in that way, to elucidate one of the two strangenesses.

  14. As Emily’s comments suggest, Rosalind struggles with balancing her work with her personal life, and this conflict is made most apparent in the scene that places Rosalind’s date next to Watson and Crick’s discovery in the lab. The events that proceed bring up the question of whether Rosalind would have been happy had she devoted more time to her life outside of work or if she had continued to work without distractions and ultimately discovered the structure of DNA.

    From the beginning, it is clear that Rosalind is a driven, disciplined character whose aspiration to discover the structure of DNA dominates her life. The audience is unable to relate to Rosalind because she shows little emotion and does not connect with other characters. It is until she goes on a date that the audience sees her in a more intimate atmosphere. During her date, Watson and Crick make the discovery to which Rosalind has dedicated her entire life’s work. Also during this scene, Rosalind falls to the ground and eventually finds out that she has cancer.

    Faced with this obstacle, Rosalind becomes a relatable character because her weakness shows that she is human and faces hardships. While watching her story unfold, I wondered whether Rosalind had any regrets about how she led her life. The imbalance between Rosalind’s work and personal life showed that her life outside of work was not a top priority. However, having worked tirelessly only to be upstaged by her competition, Rosalind may have felt that she made sacrifices all for the price of her personal life. This conflict is one that everyone faces as they decide which values will determine their lifestyle and attempt to strike a balance between work and home life.

  15. I think Photograph 51 was a good lighthearted change of pace after an intense session of The Chosen. When I entered the theater the first thing that caught my attention was the stage set, it looked well made. The photographing equipment and DNA model props were also good. I was pretty neutral to Rosalind’s character. I just saw her as a product of a time where there weren’t a lot of woman in her field. She did what she had to do to get her research done and didn’t want to be a stereotypical woman of her time. The one thing I did have a problem with was how rigorously she stuck to her beliefs. I can understand if someone would do that for respect or pride but when it got in the way of her making a discovery in her work that is too much. Like Rosalind, the other characters were also very in character, especially Watson. Watson was very pushy when he wanted to work with Dr. Wilkins. On a side note, Watson had some pretty wild hair and I was wondering if that was his actual hair. I did feel a little bad for Rosalind’s assistant who got relegated to a recurring gag, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

    Style-wise I liked that all the men were always present on the stage. Like the director had said during the post show, the fact that this was a male dominated field was always in the back of her mind. I like how Rosalind was present while Watson and Crick were about to make their discovery. Again it showed that events were going on even when Rosalind wasn’t aware of them.

  16. Unlike many of my classmates, I had not previously been exposed to the story of the double helix. This probably affected the way I viewed the story, seeing as how I saw Rosalind as the protagonist rather than Watson. Nonetheless, I came to the play knowing next to nothing about it and thoroughly enjoyed its fast-paced and compelling plot. There was certainly a lot of “dumbing down” for a non-scientific audience, but the themes and character development, not to mention acting (Crick!), was worthy of much applause.

    I very much enjoyed the dynamics of the stage and the omnipresence of the characters in the play. As they reacted to the events of the play unfolding, I was able to garner a sense of how every single felt about developments, rather than just the characters on set. It showed the audience that the discovery of the helix was a group effort, and not just a discovery by isolated individuals.

    Certainly there is a emphasis on gender equality in the play, and this is where I found the adaptation most interesting. To me, this play was not altogether sympathetic to Rosalind’s achievements—rather, she appeared to me as cold, standoffish, and unwilling to collaborate. Albeit this is attributed to her commitment to research and, perhaps, a longing for personal achievement. As she pushed her fellow scientists away, her work became more and more secluded; she put continuous pressure to solve this enigma whereas she could’ve easily asked for assistance.

  17. During my sophomore year at the University of Michigan, I was exposed to James Watson’s book and had discussed at length the various truths and biases in his telling of the discovery of DNA. It was fascinating then, for me to see another interpretation of the events dramatized on stage. I thought this adaptation was incredibly well done as each and every moment of the production had a particular significance.

    Watson’s character played his role brilliantly and Rosalind played hers with equal conviction. If their portrayals were indeed pretty close interpretations of the actual characters, it reveals so much about the dynamics of scientific discovery. I don’t think Rosalind did herself any favors with her methodical, icy, and stiff demeanor, but then again, she was not afforded much leniency in a field dominated by men. Looking to be taken serious in the scientific community, at times, she had to work harder then ‘the boys.’ Despite that however, I don’t think in anything justifies her lack of credit for the discovery of DNA, particularly while Wilkins received credit. (At the time Nobel prizes were only awarded to living recipients, but I might contend a posthumous award is in order)

    What was perplexing to me, was the conversation in which Rosalind mentions she is Jewish, and that not many of “their kind” are in that particular field. Was that a necessary string of dialogue? It was never touched on again in the entirety of the play… I understand that it was performed in Theater J, which does a phenomenal job at exposing a wider audience to Jewish theater, but to me, that particular line didn’t bring anything new to the play as a whole.

  18. During my sophomore year at the University of Michigan, I was exposed to James Watson’s book “The Double Helix” and had discussed at length the various truths and biases in his telling of the discovery of DNA. It was fascinating then, for me to see another interpretation of the events dramatized on stage. I thought this adaptation was incredibly well done as each and every moment of the production had a particular significance.

    Watson’s character played his role brilliantly and Rosalind played hers with equal conviction. If their portrayals were indeed pretty close interpretations of the actual characters, it reveals so much about the dynamics of scientific discovery. I don’t think Rosalind did herself any favors with her methodical, icy, and stiff demeanor, but then again, she was not afforded much leniency in a field dominated by men. Looking to be taken serious in the scientific community, at times, she had to work harder then ‘the boys.’ Despite that however, I don’t think in anything justifies her lack of credit for the discovery of DNA, particularly while Wilkins received credit. (At the time Nobel prizes were only awarded to living recipients, but I might contend a posthumous award is in order)

    What was perplexing to me, was the conversation in which Rosalind mentions she is Jewish, and that not many of “their kind” are in that particular field. Was that a necessary string of dialogue? It was never touched on again in the entirety of the play… I understand that it was performed in Theater J, which does a phenomenal job at exposing a wider audience to Jewish theater, but to me, that particular line didn’t bring anything new to the play as a whole.

  19. Photograph 51 presented a race to find DNA’s structure while illustrating the qualities of those contributing to its discovery. Although the play was a fictional account, I found the portrayals of Franklin, Watson, Crick, and Wilkins compelling, and quite exciting.
    I have seen other depictions of Franklin through movies and shows, but I found Elizabeth Rich’s performance different. In past experiences, I felt that I sympathized with Franklin due to her loss in the race and her development of cancer. However, Rich truly made me empathize with the difficulties she endured, such as isolation and perceived inferiority, from her status as a female scientist. Additionally, Rich held my attention by showing human moments quickly followed by outbursts of frustration and quite frankly meanness. For example, upon the discovery of Photograph 51 Franklin begs Wilkins to play a game. Frustrated with Wilkins’ inability to cooperate, Franklin yells out and becomes quiet. At these moments, I could not help but wish such an accomplished human would simply be nicer. Later in the play, she acquiesces my desire. I feel that to enrapture an audience member in such a way as to make me want something more of that character marks the talent of that performer, and I was thoroughly impressed.
    Along with the actors, I felt that certain scenes in the play left me appreciating the directing of the performance. In particular, I liked the parallel illustration of Watson and Crick developing DNA’s physical structure while Franklin collapses at dinner. Although some students thought too much was going on during this scene, I felt that it was an appropriate climax. I kept switching from the struggling Watson and Crick and the build up of Franklin’s collapse. To add, the dimmed lighting on the DNA structure allowed me to focus primarily on Franklin. Overall I really admired the actors’ conviction and commitment to their performances. I really did enjoy the show.

  20. “Women abound in plays about science.” Photograph 51 perfectly shows what it is like to be a female Jewish to be in the field of science. The story was told through simple settings and excellent performance. I am able to follow along with the plots fairly well and also understand some of the message the play might include. There is certainly a barrier between male and female shown in the play. And the barrier is caused by the lack of interaction and trust.

    I cannot relate to this play because I’m not a female but what I can do is to learn about the situation and bring my awareness about the situation and this play definitely helped to understand and bring my awareness of the situation. One thing I liked a lot about the play is the scene when the actress is having dinner with John, Watson is building up the model of the DNA. This scene was set up on the stage with a separated stadium. The show of contrast plays well with the plot and the lighting was just right. Although I do want to point out that it might have been better if both of the scenes’ dialogue can be performed at the same time; this may enhance the intensity of the situation.

    Over all, this play isn’t my favorite play from all the plays we watched in the theater class. The reason being that this play lacks strong impact on myself due to the fact that I cannot relate to the subject. The performance is great but not excellent, I often felt that some part are overly done and overly acted in order to make the audience laugh.

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