The "Science Play" is nothing new. Anton Chekhov's interests in environmentalism and ecology are evident in many of his plays, including Uncle Vanya and The Cherry Orchard. Tom Stoppard's Arcadia uses math and botany to tell a theatrical story. One could even argue that the witches in Macbeth use the Empirical Method to conjure their brew.
But, in recent history, playwrights have unveiled an aspect of the Science Play that has long deserved attention: feminism. Sarah Ruhl, in her In the Next Room, or The Vibrator Play, discusses the fraught, medical history of the vibrator, used to treat "hysteria" in women (and some men). Caryl Churchill explores cloning and male individuality in A Number: A Play. And perhaps most notably (and most recently), Anna Ziegler's Photograph 51 paints a portrait of Rosalind Franklin, the scientist whose work on the DNA double helix structure was stolen by Watson and Crick, essentially awarding them the fame that was rightly hers.
How does one situate Ziegler's work in the context of the history of Science Plays? What scientific legacy is she speaking to, and why does she choose a stage as her battleground? In this Olio, we'll read from Ziegler's two-act play, Photograph 51, to explore the science, feminism, and theatricality of "science plays" as a whole.
Drawing on the tradition of radical teach-ins, Think Olio is making a call to intellectual arms with read-in's.
In this spirit, we invite you to join us for Think Olio’s radical read-ins. Read-ins are meant to be practical, participatory, and oriented toward action. We'll ask our professors to take a complex piece of scholarship and make it accessible and usable.
As a community of socially engaged thinkers, we will focus on thoughtful solutions to the problems that are dividing us.