The public is invited to a free reading of excerpts from the award-winning play, “Photograph 51,” by Anna Ziegler on Wednesday, May 3 at 6:30 pm at the Samaritan Health Education Center at 740 SW 9th St. in Newport. Photograph 51 is the designation given to a famous X-ray diffraction image taken by British chemist Dr. Rosalind Franklin that led to James Watson and Francis Crick’s discovery that the DNA molecule exists in the form of a double helix, for which James Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins shared a Nobel Prize in 1962. Dr. Franklin, at age 37, had died of ovarian cancer a few years earlier and her name was not mentioned when the Nobel Prize was given. Much of the play deals with the treatment of a fellow scientist who happened to be female, by her male lab co-workers. Oregon State University’s Valley Library owns the only known original print of the photo.
The full play has been performed in several countries; world-wide coverage was gained when Dr. Franklin was portrayed by Nicole Kidman on stage in 2015 in London’s West End.
The reading of “Photograph 51” was done in March at the Guin Library at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. A second performance is being done to give others a chance to experience this piece of science history.
The performers in Photograph 51 by Anna Ziegler are from both the Oregon State University and Corvallis community. Rus Roberts has performed in numerous local theatre productions and also in the series about women in science, most recently in Lauren Gunderson’s Silent Sky about astronomer Henrietta Leavitt. Johanna Spencer works for Social Security in Albany and is an OSU theatre grad and a veteran of numerous theatre productions both as an actress and director; Amanda Granrud teaches communication for the INTO program at Oregon State and was active as an interpreter in intercollegiate debate in college; Kryn Freehling-Burton is an instructor of Women Studies and was active in theatre as an undergrad and often uses theatre in her classes; she is a published dramatist. Harriet Owen Nixon holds a degree in theatre from OSU and has done extensive work in theatre for every performing venue in the Corvallis area, both as an actress and a director; she recently was Grizabella in the production of CATS at Corvallis High School. Charlotte J. Headrick is a professor emerita of theatre from Oregon State. She holds the Ph.D. in theatre from the Univ. of Georgia and is a member of Actor’s Equity Association; she is the co-editor with Eileen Kearney of Irish Women Dramatists, Syracuse University Press.