PHOTOGRAPH 51 by Anna Ziegler

(Studied in comparison with My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin)

Photograph 51 rewrites the story of the discovery of DNA, high- lighting the role of Rosalind Franklin in a discovery conventionally attributed to James Watson and Francis Crick. Anna Ziegler’s play highlights that history is really HIS-story; the stories of men told at the expense of the female voice.

While we examine the stories of contemporary women, we look back through the lens of time to rural Australia in the 1890s as depicted in My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin. In this novel, we are taken on the journey of Sybylla Melvyn, a woman who is left to deal with the fallout from the poor business decisions of her father. Sybylla resolves to remain unmarried, not because of a staunch view against marriage, but because of her depleted self-esteem as a woman.

In the workshop, we compare My Brilliant Career with Photograph 51. The protagonists, Franklin and Melvyn are not the same archetypal woman but despite being over a hundred years apart, there are frighteningly common threads of sexism that only become obvious when we continue the project of telling HER-stories.