Two Theatres Honor Marginalized Women Scientists. UW School of Drama and Tacoma Little Theatre

“I think that there are, and have been, many Rosalind Franklins in the world—unsung women and untold stories”
Amanda Rountree,Photograph 51 director

It is well known that the Nobel Committee tried to award the 1903 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Pierre Curie, and not jointly to both Pierre and his wife Marie, who was an equal, if not the senior partner in their research. Pierre, being a man of principle and humility, refused to accept it unless the committee awarded it jointly to both of them. After his 1906 death, Marie alone went on to win another Nobel prize, in 1911 in physics. One wonders whether the committee would have awarded the second prize to a woman, had Pierre not had the intellectually integrity to acknowledge his wife’s brilliance and contribution.

But were there other women whose contributions to science were Nobel Prize worthy, but may have been overlooked, because traditional male chauvinist attitudes tend to undervalue women’s accomplishments. Or did the scientific establishment always automatically assume that a male must be responsible for any accomplishment worthy of recognition. Indeed there are. In fact two theatres, Tacoma Little Theatre and the UW’s School of Drama are offering plays, Silent Sky and Photo 51, about women scientists, both of whom made major contributions to science, one in astronomy and one in early DNA research, but whose contributions were undervalued and overlooked by the male dominated scientific establishment.

At TLT, Silent Sky tells the true story of 19th-century astronomer Henrietta Leavitt, while exploring a woman’s place in societ, during a time of immense scientific discoveries, when women’s ideas were dismissed until men claimed credit for them. Social progress, like scientific progress, can be hard to see, when one is trapped among earthly complications; Henrietta and her female peers believe in both, and their dedication changed the way we understand both the heavens and Earth.

Silent Sky, Tacoma Little Theatre 210 N. I St. Tacoma Little Theatre, 210 N. I St. Tacoma WA 98403.Jan. 21 – Feb.6, 2022F Fri and Sat at 7:30pm, Sun at 2pm. Pay What You Can: Thur, Feb 3 at 7:30pm, Tickets:

At the UW, School of Drama, Photograph 51, Anna Ziegler’s award-winning play, tells the story of an English woman: Rosalind Franklin who knew that she would face resistance as one of few women scientists in her field. And yet, she did her work anyway—unlocking the secrets of the DNA molecule and forever changing the study of molecular biology and genomics. It’s a captivating story

Photograph 51 UW School of Drama, The Floyd and Delores Jones Playhouse Theatre 4045 University Way NE, Seattle 98105, Jan. 27 – Feb. 6, 2022


N.B. For both shows, patrons must show either a Vaccination certificate or a negative test for exempted individuals.

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