• A Nobel Experiment: Rosalind Franklin and the Prize

    Kat Zukaitis
     | Feb 25, 2019

    Photograph 51 Logo

    Rosalind Franklin at Microscope

    ​​Rosalind Franklin in 1955.

    Photo 51 showing DNA structure

    Photo 51, an X-ray diffraction image of crystallized DNA taken by Rosalind Franklin and Raymond Gosling in 1952, has been called the "most important photo ever taken" for the insights it offered into DNA's structure.

    In 1962, Francis Crick, James Watson and Maurice Wilkins shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA. This was one of the major scientific achievements of the twentieth century, a revolution in our understanding of the building blocks of biology that indisputably merited recognition at the highest levels. But recognition for whom?

    When Watson, Crick and Wilkins thanked their many collaborators from the podium, one of the names mentioned only in passing was Rosalind Franklin, a British chemist who had been Wilkins’ colleague at King’s College, London. Her X-ray photographs had given Watson and Crick the final clues they needed to solve the puzzle of DNA’s shape, and the calculations from her crystallography work provided the measurements that allowed them to accurately model the atomic structures involved. When Watson and Crick announced their discovery in 1953, the King’s lab had been well on the way to solving the problem of DNA on its own. But the deep personal antipathy between Franklin and Wilkins had held back their lab’s progress, and Franklin was never made fully aware of how her data had informed Watson and Crick’s model. The absence of any significant recognition for her contributions in the following years was both troubling and predictable.

    For playwright Anna Ziegler, the tangled history of Rosalind Franklin’s role in the DNA race represented an opportunity. In Photograph 51, she pays tribute to the brilliant mind behind the photographs that unlocked the mystery of DNA—and examines the complicated personal relationships that ultimately shaped the path to scientific discovery. “I was taken by the metaphor of the double helix,” Ziegler says. “We have a story of these two pairs: one that worked together and one that did not.” Franklin and Wilkins’ personal tensions, Watson and Crick’s determination to win at all costs, and the lingering “boys club” mentality of post-war British labs are all ingredients in this thrilling true story of achievement and regret.

    To director Kimberly Senior, the structure of Photograph 51—in which Wilkins, Watson, Crick and others serve as a chorus of argumentative narrators—suggested a Greek tragedy, in which the survivors are haunted by the question of what they could have done differently. What made one partnership sink and another shine? How do you weight the chance of greatness against the price of failure? Would different decisions have led to a different outcome? Would anything have unfolded differently if Franklin had been a man? Now doomed to retell their story in perpetuity, the chorus sifts through the past, looking for the fine line between choice, chance and inevitability.

    Rosalind Franklin will never win a Nobel Prize, but she is, at long last, getting the recognition that is her due. Under the expert direction of Kimberly Senior, the team of Photograph 51 brings to light the friendships and rivalries behind the work of Watson, Crick, Wilkins and Franklin, telling the tale of a historical omission that continues to resonate strongly today.

    Read more about the cast of Photograph 51 here.

    Nobel Prize Medal

    ​​Nobel Prize Medal

    Lise Meitner and Otto Hah

    ​​ Lise Meitner and Otto Hahn in their laboratory, 1913.

    There’s a very good reason that Rosalind Franklin did not share the 1962 Nobel Prize: she had died of ovarian cancer four years earlier and the Nobel committee does not consider posthumous candidacies. Moreover, the Nobel rules stipulate that each prize may be shared by no more than three people; and, as the committee often favors those who initiated the award-winning research, Maurice Wilkins would probably still have been the preferred candidate, since his lab’s investigation into the structure of DNA had begun well before Franklin arrived from Paris. Watson later suggested that, had Franklin lived, she and Wilkins should have shared that year’s prize in chemistry, with the prize in physiology or medicine going to himself and Crick. But that, of course, never happened—and records show that Franklin was never even nominated.

    No one has ever claimed that the Nobel Prizes are fair. The awards come off as particularly arbitrary in the sciences, when a breakthrough is rarely, if ever, the result of a single brilliant individual. “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,” said Sir Isaac Newton—but a more accurate contemporary version of the quote would be, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of a giant group of researchers, postdocs, students and technicians at my institution and at partner institutions around the world.” Every discovery is supported by a vast team, and the rising expense of research has resulted in more and more cross-institutional collaborations. A recent paper that precisely estimated the mass of the Higgs boson particle was published with no less than 5,154 authors.

    Moreover, the Nobels—like any award—are doled out by people with their own priorities and prejudices. Because previous laureates play a major role in nominating new candidates, the system amplifies entrenched fraternal networks and structural biases. At the time of Franklin’s death in 1958, only four Nobel Prizes in the sciences had gone to women—and three of those had gone to the Curie family (two to Marie and one to her daughter Irène).

    Rosalind Franklin is hardly the only snub in the Nobel’s history, nor is she the worst. The Austrian physicist Lise Meitner worked alongside Otto Hahn to discover nuclear fission but she did not share his 1944 Nobel in physics, despite 48 nominations over the course of her lifetime—in part because, like many Jewish scientists, she was forced to flee from Germany in the late 1930s, ​and left behind her work. At the time of the 1939 discovery, she was living in Sweden and collaborating with Hahn from afar. (She did get an element named after her as a consolation prize.) Anton Chekhov, James Joyce, Arthur Miller, Chinua Achebe and Jorge Luis Borges are among the major writers overlooked for the literature prize. In perhaps the most egregious omission, Mahatma Gandhi never received the peace prize, despite several nominations; the Nobel committee declined to award a prize in 1948, the year of his assassination, on the grounds that “there was no suitable living candidate.”

    If Rosalind Franklin had lived longer, she likely would have regarded a Nobel (or a lack of one) with a certain amount of stoicism—her priority was making sure she had funding to do interesting, important research with a convivial group of collaborators, not getting recognition. But it’s impossible to say what might have happened. Chemistry laureate Aaron Klug, Franklin’s protégé at Birkbeck College and the primary beneficiary in her will, credited her with introducing him to the study of viruses and to the value of tackling long and difficult scientific problems. “Had her life not been cut tragically short,” he said in his own 1982 Nobel acceptance speech, “she may well have stood in this place on an earlier occasion.”

    Learn more about Photograph 51 and buy tickets.

  • Panel Discussions on Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

    SCR Staff
     | Feb 25, 2019
    Photograph 51 logo with Rosalind and Helen Sadler

    Rosalind Franklin and Helen Sadler (portraying Rosalind Franklin).

    March is Women’s History Month and as part of it, South Coast Repertory will be hosting two pre-show events for Photograph 51 (March 3-24, Julianne Argyros Stage).

    Two panel discussions will focus on women and careers in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math). In Photograph 51, British science pioneer Rosalind Franklin is the only woman on an all-male research team; subsequently, her role in discovering the double-helix structure of DNA went unacknowledged.

    Literary Associate Kat Zukaitis, who is the show’s dramaturg, will moderate both of the panels.

    The guests for the Tuesday, March 5, 6:30 p.m., panel discussion include Mu-Chun Chen, theoretical particle physicist at UCI; Deanna Cheung, internal medicine physician; Celia Goulding, crystallographer in UCI’s department of molecular biology and biochemistry; and Kristine McCaffrey, manager of engineering at Calleguas Municipal Water District.

    The guests for Thursday, March 7, 6:30 p.m., include Allyson Fry-Petit, crystallographer and solid-state chemist at CSU-Fullerton; Mona Nassimi, chemistry professor at Saddleback College and a former laboratory manager at Truesdail Labs; Afrah Salahuddin, biomedical engineer at Johnson & Johnson; and Virginia Trimble, astrophysicist and professor at UC-Irvine.

    The panel discussions are free and open to everyone. To stay after the talks for performances of Photograph 51, purchase your tickets now.

    Tuesday, March 5:

    Mu-Chun Chen
    Theoretical particle physicist
    Professor of Physics and Astronomy, UCI
    Mu-Chun Chen is a theoretical particle physicist, studying the properties of elementary particles and their interactions, which form the fundamental building blocks of the Universe. Her current research explores the origin of elementary particle masses, the genesis of matter-antimatter asymmetry, and the unification of all fundamental forces. She graduated from National Taiwan University and obtained her PhD in theoretical physics from University of Colorado at Boulder. She was a postdoctoral fellow at Brookhaven National Lab and Fermilab, and has been a Professor of Physics at UC Irvine since 2006. She has co-authored more than 100 articles and presented more than 200 invited lectures worldwide. She has received several awards for her research and teaching, include the Humboldt Research Fellowship in Germany and UCI's Excellence in Undergraduate Education Award. She co-created UCI Women in Physics and Astronomy and has assumed several leadership positions at UCI to work towards equity and inclusion both within physics and beyond.

    Deanna Cheung, MD
    Internal medicine physician
    Long Beach Center for Clinical Research & UCI
    Deanna Cheung is an internal medicine physician with a special interest in preventive medicine. She is the owner and director of Long Beach Center for Clinical Research, where she practices medicine and participates in clinical research. In partnerships with pharmaceutical developers, she has participated in the development of key medications used for treating hypertension, diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol, while also pursuing non-pharmacological (lifestyle) approaches to these conditions. As a clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, Irvine, she has been teaching medical students about hypertension and cardiovascular disease prevention for decades. Teaching patients how to live healthier lives is integral to her practice. Her love of teaching has also been fulfilled homeschooling her two children, and she also likes to spend time reading, hiking and practicing aerial fitness.

    Celia Goulding
    Crystallographer and biochemist
    Professor & Vice Chair, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, UCI
    Celia W. Goulding is a professor of molecular biology and biochemistry & pharmaceutical sciences at the University of California, Irvine. She received a B.Sc (Hons) in chemistry and mathematic and a Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry from King’s College, London. After leaving the UK for the US, she was a postdoctoral fellow with Professor Rowena Mathews at the University of Michigan studying metalloproteinenzymology. Moving further west, as research faculty at UCLA under the supervision of Professor David Eisenberg, she also spearheaded the Tuberculosis Structural Genomics Consortium and studied crystallography. Celia eventually accepted an independent position at UCI in 2007 and became a full professor by 2014, and is now Vice Chair of the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry.  She is an X-ray-crystallographer and biochemist.

    Kristine McCaffrey
    Civil engineer
    Manager of Engineering, Calleguas Municipal Water District
    Kristine McCaffrey has more than 20 years of experience in the water and environmental fields and is currently the Manager of Engineering at Calleguas Municipal Water District in Thousand Oaks, where she oversees a $30 million per year capital project budget for water infrastructure, including large diameter pipelines, pump stations, reservoirs, renewable energy projects, and the Salinity Management Pipeline. McCaffrey has B.S. degrees in Environmental Engineering and in Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Masters in Construction Management from the University of Washington. McCaffrey is a licensed Civil Engineer in California and also holds a Grade 3 Water Treatment Plant Operator certification. 

    Thursday, March 7:

    Allyson Fry-Petit
    Crystallographer and solid-state chemist
    Assistant Professor, Analytical and Materials Chemistry, CSUF
    Allyson Fry-Petit is a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at CSUF, where she runs a solid state chemistry research lab. Her research focuses on the rational design of new materials through the use of data mining, synthesis, structural characterization and optical and vibrational probes. Dr. Fry-Petit obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry and Critical Thought and Inquiry from William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri. She obtained her PhD in Inorganic Chemistry from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio advised by Dr. Patrick Woodward. She then went to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland to be a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the lab of Dr. Tyrel McQueen. Her experimental and analysis development of inelastic neutron measurements of dynamic pair distribution function analysis at national lab facilities is another major research interest. This tool has the potential to show the motion of atoms in new ways.

    Mona Nassimi
    Environmental chemist
    Former lab manager at Truesdail Labs and chemistry professor at Saddleback College
    Mona Nassimi was born in Karaj, Iran, where her father was a music teacher and her mother was a homemaker. She received her B.S. in chemistry from the University of Tehran and taught chemistry at a local high school for several years. After the Iranian Revolution came to a close and women’s rights were being chipped away, Nassimi made the decision to migrate to the United States to obtain a graduate degree in chemistry. After she received her Master of Science from Texas Southern University, she moved to California and worked as an environmental chemist for about 29 years, and since 2015, has been teaching chemistry at Saddleback College.

    Afrah Salahuddin
    Biomedical engineer
    Global marketing, strategy, and new product development for cardiac medical devices at Johnson & Johnson
    Afrah Salahuddin holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in biomedical engineering from the Johns Hopkins University. After graduation, she moved into the cardiac medical devices industry, working on implantable pacemakers and defibrillators. For the past 9 years, she has been in the electrophysiology space with Johnson & Johnson, where she treats different cardiac rhythm disorders—arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation—with various advanced technologies (in other words, she “fixes broken hearts”). As an engineer and scientist, her responsibilities at Johnson & Johnson include product development, clinical support, sales, commercial and global marketing, and global strategy. Outside of work, Salahuddin is an avid martial artist and spends a lot of time outdoors. She is also studying to be a minister in a non-denominational philosophy. Salahuddin describes her approach to life as “catering to my mind (through all of the fascinating elements of my work, and through overall intellectual curiosity of the world around us), body (through physical fitness) and spirit (through my non-denominational study of metaphysics).”

    Virginia Trimble
    Professor of Physics and Astronomy, UCI
    Virginia Trimble is a native Californian and graduate of Hollywood High School, UCLA (BA Astronomy & Physics), and Caltech (MS Astronomy & Physics, PhD Astronomy, 1968) with honorary degrees from the University of Cambridge (MA 1969) and University of Valencia (dott h.c. 2010). Her research interests have gradually evolved from astrophysics (white dwarfs, supernovae, binary stars, and such) to history of science and scientometrics ("the science of science" for instance, the productivity and impact of various telescopes, and the moderate successes of decadal planning processes). She has held offices (typically topping out at about the level of vice president) in the American Astronomical Society, the International Astronomical Union, the American Physical Society, the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics and others). Her publication list just topped 890 items; asteroid 1978 VT08 was recently renamed 9271Trimble; and the American Astronomical Society and the American Association of Variable Star Astronomers gave her nice awards last year. Teaching for the spring will include a first year graduate course in astrophysics and an honors seminar on the impact of World War I on the sciences.

  • What to See in New York City in Spring 2019

    SCR Staff
     | Feb 22, 2019

    In addition to seeing four exciting Broadway plays during the SCR Spring Theatre Tour (May 14-20), theatre enthusiasts will have an opportunity to explore some of the lively city’s attractions. Read on for details about some of the sites you’ll see.

    New Amsterdam TheatreThe New Amsterdam Theatre
    The oldest operating Broadway theatre opened its doors in 1903 and was immediately hailed as New York City’s most beautiful building. ​While its first production—A Midsummer Night’s Dream—was a hit, ​many of the reviewers ​wrote at length about the city's “House Beautiful” where the play was staged.
    Learn more.

    EllisIslandEllis Island
    Ellis Island opened in 1892 as an immigration station. Located in New York Harbor, and sharing proximity with the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island remained active for more than 60 years until it closed in 1954. Over the course of this immigration hub’s active years, millions of newly arrived immigrants passed through the doors. It has been estimated that about 40 percent of all current U.S. citizens can trace at least one of their ancestors to Ellis Island.
    Learn more.

    CloistersThe Met Cloisters
    The Cloisters is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum and is located on four acres of Manhattan’s Fort Tryon Park next to the Hudson River. This part of the museum is known for the art, architecture and gardens of medieval Europe.
    Learn more.


    New York Botanical Garden
    Founded in 1891, The New York Botanical Garden serves as a museum, as well as a plant research and conservation organization. Now a National Historic Landmark, the garden is one of the most popular in the world and is the largest in any city within the United States. A large​ part of the mission of the Botanical Garden includes the in-depth education programs in horticulture and plant science in addition to a broad range of research programs of the International Plant Science Center.
    Learn more.


    National September 11 Memorial & Museum
    This non-profit was formed as a memorial ​to the 2,983 people killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks, as well as ​individuals who risked their lives to save those in danger and everyone who showed extraordinary compassion in the aftermath of the horrific events. The memorial ​includes commemoration areas, exhibitions and educational programs in ​remembrance of the tragic attacks.
    Learn more.


    One World Observatory

    The One World Observatory is located on top of One World Trade Center (also known as the Freedom Tower), the 1,776 foot tall skyscraper, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. The observatory offers a panoramic, breathtaking view of New York City.
    Learn more.

    Iguana ClubThe Iguana Restaurant and Dance Lounge

    It’s vintage all the way at this iconic nightspot, where you’ll be transported to the 1920s and ‘30s with great food, exquisite cocktails and dancing to the Grammy Award-winning house band from HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”—Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks. You’ll enjoy dinner and a show here.
    Learn more.

    Other tour destinations and special features of the New York City Theatre Tour include a leisurely breakfast and theatre talk and a day dedicated to seeing the museums, as well as a guided walking tour of the beautiful city.

  • The Inside Scoop on "Poor Yella Rednecks"

    SCR Staff
     | Feb 21, 2019
    The cast of Vietgone

    Director May Adrales and playwright Qui Nguyen (fourth and fifth from left) with the cast of SCR's 2015 world premiere production of Vietgone.

    “An unlikely intermingling of family play, history play, sex farce, action flick, and cultural critique. It is overtly rollicking and sneakily moving.”—The Guardian about Vietgone

    In the award-winning Vietgone (2015 world premiere at SCR), playwright Qui Nguyen recounted his parents’ hot and hilarious courtship in a Vietnamese refugee camp in 1975. For the next chapter in the family's story, Poor Yella Rednecks, it's six years later and Tong and Quang are building new lives in a foreign land called rural Arkansas. But marriage is hard—especially when she’s having doubts and his first one isn’t over yet. ​This family’s history makes for a raucously funny, deeply moving take on the immigrant story, told with hip-hop style.

    Poor Yella Rednecks reunites Nguyen with director May Adrales. He’s thrilled to work with her again.

    “She’s my perfect artistic partner in bringing this story to life as she’s also the child of Asian immigrants who grew up in the deep ​South and, like me, isn’t afraid to laugh loudly,” he says.

    Adrales calls Nguyen a “mad genius” who “smashes together genres of fantasy, romantic comedy, drama in ​his notorious signature style, along with the theatrical spectacle of movement, music, puppets and projections.”

    Nguyen ​calls Poor Yella Rednecks his most personal play yet.

    “It’s about my family,” he says. “It’s about two people who are very much in love here in America, but also haunted by the ghosts of who they were in Vietnam. And as the title suggests, it’s about living in poverty in the ​deep South as Asian immigrants. That’s the heartbeat of the play, which I’m aware sounds heavy."

    Nguyen is known for shows full of kung fu fights, random ‘90s hip-hop dance breaks, immature puppets, and even more immature jokes. “I can assure you, that’s also this play,” he confirms.

    He credits his mother, Tong, with the humor that infuses his work.

    “After my mom saw the very first play I ever wrote (a “serious” show in 2006 called Trial By Water, about Vietnamese boat people) she remarked, ‘This not sound like you. You funny. This play not funny. Be funny. That you.’ So therefore, this is all her fault. Blame her. And that’s why she’s the lead character in Poor Yella Rednecks. (How ya like that, mom?).”

    Adrales says that this Nguyen play spotlights people who struggle to make something out of nothing to create a better future for their child.

    “In a time where immigrants are criminalized and cruelly punished for fleeing violence and war, Poor Yella Rednecks ushers in a much​-needed reminder of shared humanity,” she says. “I believe everyone will find they have more in common with the Nguyen family than differences. And, along the way, you’ll laugh at some off-color jokes, cry a little and open your hearts a bit more.”

    Learn more about Poor Yella Rednecks and purchase tickets.

    Did you know that Poor Yella Rednecks is part of the 2019 Pacific Playwrights Festival? Check out all seven bold, new plays.

  • Meet the Cast of "Photograph 51"

    Tania Thompson
     | Feb 11, 2019
    The cast of Photograph 51

    THE CAST: Helen Sadler, Riley Neldam, George Ketsios, Giovanni Adams, Anil Margsahayam and Josh Odsess-Rubin.

    Anna Ziegler’s play Photograph 51 focuses on scientist Rosalind Franklin's work in discovering the DNA double helix. She was a British science pioneer who took hundreds of X-ray crystallographic images and one of them showed the double-helix structure; the team later received a Nobel Prize for the discovery, but Franklin's role in the work went unacknowledged. The six cast members are excited for director Kimberly Senior’s vision for the play, are learning a bit about the science that led to the discovery and, below, they dish on their own science moments and talk about the characters they portray in the play.


    ​Giovanni Adams
    Previously at SCR:
    I was in the Pacific Playwrights Festival reading of Little Black Shadows by Kemp Powers and then was in the production on the Argyros Stage.
    My character
    is James Watson. He is an American, which is to say he lacks the social niceties—the English ‘sense of fair play’—when it comes to important matters like discovering the secret of life. Jim is wicked-smart, full of self-confidence and charm, and has an unrelenting drive to win. In another life, he might have made a good salesman or competitive athlete. He pushes his mates to cross the finish line first in the DNA race, leaving little time to count the cost.
    The moment in the play that really resonates with me: The character of Rosalind has this beautiful speech where she shares a bit of wisdom passed down by her father and, to me, it felt very similar to the speech black parents give their children, this idea that you've got to be a cut above the rest when you start at a ‘disadvantage.’ In this case, because she’s a woman. ​I get the sense that Rosalind took this advice to heart and really held herself to an impossible standard. ​What struck me is how, in spite of all the effort she made to be remarkable, Rosalind and her hard work were almost forgotten.
    My science moment in school: As a kid, I was full of questions and naturally gravitated toward the sciences. Photograph 51 actually brings back fond memories of high school, back in Mississippi, where I was lucky enough to be a part of a program called Base Pair, an obvious play on the foundational components of DNA; students were paired with medical researchers just across the street at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. My research focused on the p53 gene found on chromosome number 17, which encodes a protein shown to help prevent cancer. I looked into ways of detecting p53 protein (both healthy and mutated forms) in saliva as a marker for people with high risk of getting cancer, as was the case we found for one of my high school math teachers. I also looked into ways of using viral DNA to infect damaged cells with the good form of the p53 gene as a possible method for cancer treatment. However, my most vivid memory of this time is my Mom discovering me dead asleep in the medical lab late one night without so much as a phone call, she was royally pissed! I was lucky enough to have my research published in the Journal of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences. Pretty cool!


    ​George Ketsios
    Previously at SCR:
    I’m making my debut!
    My other credits include
    “Grimm,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “Scandal,” “Shameless,” and the TV series “Lethal Weapon.”
    My character
    is Maurice Wilkins. He’s a man dedicated to his work and to the love of science. When one becomes deeply engrained in the work and nothing more, they become blinded to the world around them and, with that comes the loss of the life that surrounds them. He is a man full of regrets. The arrival of Rosalind Franklin comes with some difficulty, but she quickly turns to a shining light in Maurice's life; he’s both afraid to confess to and or confront her. As his love for her grows over the course of time, his past failures hold him back from expressing this to her.
    The moment in the play that really resonates with me: I don't think I can choose just one​. At the first rehearsal, I found myself laughing more than I expected and embracing all the humor that unfolds between the characters. Perhaps the one scene that resonates most is between Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins, working side by side in the lab, while Ray Gosling acts as a mediator between them. The childish act of having Gosling tell the others what they’re thinking and saying just shows the absurdity that comes ​from playing games with one another.
    The science moment in school I knew that it wasn’t for me.
    It was over a period of one month in sixth grade when our science teacher, Mr. Palmer, brought in dead things for the class to dissect. However, my present-day love of science comes from my son Leo's love for Tom Lehrer’s The Elements. To hear him sing this song, and rattle off all the elements, brings pure joy to my life!


    ​Anil Margsahayam
    Previously at SCR:
    This is my debut!
    My other credits include
    Oh Danny Boy, “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Silicon Valley," “The Big Bang Theory" and "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.”
    My character
    is Francis Crick. He’s a bit of a multi-disciplined scientist. He has a lot of wit and humor and I think what resonates with me the most is his kindness to his friends. I know he's a bit of a villain in the play, alongside Watson, but there are these moments along the way that he looks out for his old friend Wilkins that make him likable. He also has a bit of a philosophical side that balances out the constant pressures of being a scientist. He ponders and explores and really only speaks when necessary.
    The moment in the play that really resonates with me:
    I am drawn to the scenes at both the beginning and end of the play that talk about an actress in a play that Rosalind had seen that didn't stand out to her. On the surface, it seems like a pretty simple metaphor for Rosalind—not standing out in her field at the time. There are so many layers as to why this idea is so tragic and perplexing at the same time.
    My big science moment:
    This actually happened when I came home from school. My grandfather, who was living with us, was a retired physics professor. There was a basic science quiz we had to study for and he really shined a lot of light on it for me. I remember sitting with him and just being in awe of how learned he was and how patiently he walked me through everything.


    ​Riley Neldam
    Previously at SCR
    : The Sisters Rosensweig.
    My character
    is Ray Gosling. He’s a lesser-known figure during the era of this play, but he is a bit of an unsung hero in his own right. While he was working as Dr. Franklin’s assistant, he was often the one who captured and developed the X-ray images including the now famous “Photograph #51.”
    The moment in the play that really resonates with me:
    I particularly like the moment when Rosalind and Maurice warm to each other very briefly when they discover they have a mutual love of Shakespeare.
    The science moment in school I knew that it wasn’t for me:
    I was really interested in physics, but when I was told that my math grades and scores weren’t good enough to take physics, I had to let it all go at that point.


    ​Josh Odsess-Rubin
    Previously at SCR:
    Sense and Sensibility this season as Edward Ferrars who courts Elinor Dashwood.
    My character
    is Don Caspar, the one man in the play who unabashedly admires Rosalind Franklin, both as a scientist and as a person. Caspar and Watson are the only two Americans in our story and, in some ways, they represent the yin and yang of this country. While Watson is all cutthroat ambition, Caspar is all openness and warmth. An interesting historical note: Watson’s qualm with the real Caspar was that he was simply too unwilling to find faults in his colleagues.
    The moment in the play that really resonates with me:
    It actually breaks my heart, when we see what might have been: ​when Rosalind voices her inner desires—her secrets, her dreams—and then we see what actually occurred. It is both a beautifully human and a wonderfully theatrical moment that you don’t expect.
    My science moment:
    In elementary school, I definitely thought I was going to be a marine biologist. Within a few years, I found out that reading [and loving] a picture book about manta rays (so cool!) are quite different from actually learning about hemoglobins or hydrostatic pressure. The last nail in my science coffin was in college. I had a science requirement and thought I’d take an easy-sounding course geared for non-majors—astronomy​. It was crazy-intense physics and dense mathematics and totally miserable. All I wanted to do was learn about constellations!


    ​Helen Sadler
    Previously at SCR:
    One Man, Two Guvnors and The Whale.
    My character
    is Dr. Rosalind Franklin. She was a brilliant bio-physicist, whose pioneering work on X-ray diffraction led to the discovery of the structure of DNA. As portrayed in Photograph 51, she is single-minded, sometimes intractable but passionate and unapologetic in her pursuit of scientific excellence and truth, at great personal sacrifice.
    The moment in the play that really resonates with me:
    There is a wonderful scene where Dr. Wilkins brings Dr. Franklin a box of chocolates to ‘make friends’ after a rocky start. She completely eviscerates him… so much of the humor comes from the difference in how the (male) scientists expect her to act, and what they actually encounter.
    The moment I knew science wasn’t for me:
    When I was in school, the smell of the physics lab didn’t help. It was a pungent combination of the albino salamanders that were kept in a tank (who knows why?) and sulphur from many experiments. All of that just wafted down the corridor to greet us. Lovely…

    Learn more about Photograph 51 and buy tickets.