Photograph 51: Greater Than The Sex of Its Parts
Gestaltism is often summarized with the following belief: That the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Now, although this psychology theorizes about the mind and brain, the above belief could also be said to hold true in numerous contexts.
Take genetics, for example. And gender differences. And competition. And acclaim.
Life and death, even.
Enter a play – a 90-minute play with no intermissions – that is currently running at the Seattle Repertory Theatre (SRT) as its Northwest premiere: Anna Ziegler’s Photograph 51. (Your Hedonista recently attended as media.) Directed by Braden Abraham, this play revolves around “Photo 51” – the name given to a photograph (an Z-ray diffraction photograph, to be exact) taken by none other than Dr. Rosalind Franklin in 1952.
But this was not just any photograph, dear hedonists – it was critical proof in defining the actual structural composition of DNA: the double helix. Given that the “discovery” of this structure has historically been credited to Dr. James D. Watson and Dr. Francis Crick, this play goes deep into the hotly debated controversy as to just how Watson and Crick obtained access to this image and thus whether the credit – either in whole or in part – should really be given to Franklin.
Ziegler’s play touches upon the critical shortcomings of both the age (sexism) and Dr. Rosalind Franklin herself (stubbornness) and how those flawed factors, combined, led to her somehow overlooked acclaim in the DNA double helix identification. Ziegler also melds fact and fiction, adding romance here, added drama there, and warping the timeline as desired.
In sum, Ziegler balanced historical accuracy with storytelling … and did so beautifully.
The cast is a good one overall, but the highlight by far is the performance of Kirsten Potter, who plays an extraordinary Dr. Rosalind Franklin. (NOTE: She’s also played two other exceedingly strong – as well as hedonistically heavenly – female characters: Aphra Behn in Or, Melanie Coleman in One Slight Hitch.) To me, the play is all about her, from career to death. How women in the workplace with Ph.Ds were still referred to as “Miss” or “Mrs.” and not “Dr.”
Respect and professionalism are irrespective of sex.
And the sex of one’s parts is so much less than the whole of a given human being.
Originally set to run February 1st to March 3rd, 2013 at the SRT – which is currently enjoying its 50th Anniversary 2012-2013 season - Photograph 51‘s run has been extended to March 10th. Twenty-one performances remain, including tonight’s run at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range in price from $30-$70, with $12 ticets available to those 25 years of age and younger (with valid ID).