Monday, June 07, 2010

Play - Blooming Snapdragons at the Royal Institution

Wednesday 14 July 2010, 7.00pm-8.30pm

100 years ago was an exciting time of discovery in the newly developing science of genetics.  Mankind was starting to uncover the very building blocks of life and what makes us, but what about womankind? This was a time when women couldn’t receive degrees on completing their exams, and women’s colleges had to fund their own laboratories as male scientists wouldn’t let them complete practical work in their labs. And yet, the early work in this new field of genetics is filled with the names of women scientists.

Now, a new play is bringing these names to life to explore their dedication and their contribution against a backdrop of exclusion from the mainstream scientific community.

‘Blooming Snapdragons’, written and performed by Liz Rothschild and Syreeta Kumar, tells the story of a remarkable group of scientists, known collectively as Bateson’s Ladies, whose contribution to the first steps into the vast new territory of genetics is marked through their scientific achievements, whilst little is known of them as people. It explores their preclusion from the male dominated laboratories of universities and their relationship with William Bateson, who coined the word ‘genetics’ but was himself a marginalised figure in academic society.

William Bateson was the first director of the John Innes Institute, an organisation that is celebrating its centenary this year, and it through researching material for the centenary celebrations that much of the groundbreaking work of these remarkable ladies has come to light, and prompted the modern day John Innes Centre to commission a play to tell their stories.

“It has been a fascinating journey into this period of scientific history so relevant to the work being done today and a rare privilege to be invited, as a writer with no scientific background, into the everyday world of laboratories and glasshouses,” commented Liz Rothschild.

‘Blooming Snapdragons’ takes place in a contemporary laboratory as two scientists explore the lost story of these women. Playing a series of female scientists from the past, they examine the controversy around educating women and how their careers developed, whilst one of them wrestles with her own personal challenges today.

“As a person who found science subjects difficult and even boring at school it has been fascinating to explore the beauty and bravery of the work of Bateson’s Ladies and I hope it will kindle in those watching a curiosity and respect for the questions and challenges facing science now,” said Liz.

‘Blooming Snapdragons’ is directed by Sue Mayo and will be followed by a panel discussion with Sue and the cast about the issues raised.
Tickets cost £8 standard, £6 concessions, £4 Ri Members.
To book tickets go to

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