Anna Ziegler’s “Photograph 51” takes us back to 1950s London, where the discovery of the DNA double helix structure would unlock the “secret of life”, and Rosalind Franklin’s contribution would be overlooked for decades. This delicate play puts her back in the picture and shines a light on the challenges she faced as a woman in a male-dominated field and the price she paid.
“Photograph 51” opened in the West End of London in September 2015, with Nicole Kidman in the role of Rosalind Franklin. Nicole’s portrayal won the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actress in 2015 and the WhatsOnStage Award for Best Actress in a Play in 2016. “Photograph 51” won the WhatsOnStage Award for Best New Play in 2016.
This play won the third STAGE International Script Competition in 2008.
The title comes from Photo 51, the nickname given to an X-ray diffraction image taken by Raymond Gosling in May, 1952, under the supervision of Rosalind Franklin.
Beyond the story, however, “Photograph 51” reminds us of the shared intentions of art and science. Both seek to improve our understanding of the world around us, to make sense of life, test ideas and see things from another perspective. The results of these discoveries have the possibility to permanently alter our understanding of the world while continuing to feed our curiosity and pursuit of knowledge.