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Fountain Presents West Coast Premiere of PHOTOGRAPH 51 Starting 3/14

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Simon Levy directs the West Coast premiere of the original drama about scientific intrigue and competition - and a woman's life in a man's world. Photograph 51 by Anna Ziegler opens on March 21 at The Fountain Theatre for a seven-week run through May 3.

Low-priced previews begin March 14.

Based on a true story, Photograph 51 recounts how X-ray diffraction images created by English biophysicist Rosalind Franklin provided the critical breakthrough that James Watson and Francis Crick needed to develop their Nobel-prize-winning model of the DNA molecule in 1953. How much credit Franklin deserves for this discovery, and how the work of women scientists was treated, has roiled scientific circles ever since. Playwright Anna Ziegler introduces us to a combustible mix of characters: Franklin, Watson, Crick, and their colleagues Maurice Wilkins, Raymond Gosling and Don Caspar, to recreate the events leading up to one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century. In the process, she raises provocative questions about sexism, scientific collaboration and ethical behavior.

"The success of Anna's play is that she makes science, and these scientists, so real and vibrant, wrapping it all in a tale of romance and intrigue," says Levy. "She's presented the story in a way that is beautiful, visceral and alive. As one character says, 'Time wraps around itself. It puts its tail in its mouth. Every version of every story exists at once. And they're all the truth.' I fell in love with those lines. They've guided my approach to the play."

Aria Alpert. (the daughter of music legend Herb Alpert and singer Lani Hall) stars as Franklin at The Fountain Theatre. Aria's theater credits include the title role in Nora at Century City Playhouse, Stella in Gross Points, opposite Alec Baldwin at Bay Street Theater in New York, and Viola in Twelfth Night at the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival. Also in the cast are Daniel Billet as Maurice Wilkins; Ian Gould as James Watson; Kerby Joe Grubb as Francis Crick; Ross Hellwig as Don Caspar; Graham Norris as Ray Gosling; and the male alternate is Joe Delafield.

Set Design for Photograph 51 is by Travis Gale Lewis; Lighting Design is by Kathi O'Donohue; Costume Design is by Shon LeBlanc; Sound Design is by Peter Stenshoel; Prop Design is by Dean Cameron; Dialect Coach is JB Blanc; Production Stage Manager is Elna Kordijan; and Ben Bradley produces.

Photograph 51 was commissioned and produced by Active Cultures in University Park, Maryland in March 2008, and went on to win the 2008 STAGE (Scientists, Technologists and Artists Generating Exploration) International script competition for Best New Play, chosen by a panel of judges that included Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner David Auburn; Tony, Olivier, and Obie Award-winner John Guare; Nobel Laureate in physics and KBE Sir Anthony Leggett; Pulitzer Prize-winner playwright David Lindsay-Abaire; and Nobel Laureate in physics Dr. Douglas Osheroff. In January, 2009 Manhattan Theatre Club artistic director Lynne Meadow directed a workshop production at Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York as part of the EST/Sloan Project's First Light Festival, a program designed to stimulate artists to create credible and compelling work that explores the worlds of science and technology and challenges existing stereotypes of scientists and engineers in the popular imagination.

Anna Ziegler's other plays include Dov and Ali (Theatre 503, London, June-July 2008), BFF (W.E.T. at the DR2 Theatre, 2007), Novel (SPF, 2007), Life Science (Bulldog Theatrical, 2007), Variations on a Theme (workshopped in July 2008 by Chautauqua Theater Company, directed by Ethan McSweeny), In the Same Room, The Minotaur, To Be Fair, and Everything You Have. Ziegler's plays have been developed by the Sundance Theatre Lab, The Old Vic New Voices program, Primary Stages, The Geva Theatre Center, The McCarter Theatre, The Lark Play Development Center, Ars Nova, Theater J, New Georges (where she is an Affiliate Artist), Clubbed Thumb, The New Harmony Project, The hotINK Festival, Icicle Creek Theatre Festival, Catalyst Theater, The Playwrights' Center PlayLabs Festival, The Fireraisers Theatre Company at the Hampstead Theatre (London), The Birmingham Rep, and by Company B at the Belvoir St. Theatre (Sydney, Australia). She was a Dramatists Guild Fellow for 2004-2005, and a member of the 2005 Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab and the 2007-2008 Lark's Monthly Meetings of the Minds writers' group. She has been published in Ten-Minute Plays for 2 Actors: The Best of 2004 (Smith and Kraus, Inc.) and New American Short Plays 2005 (Backstage Books, ed. Craig Lucas). BFF and Life Science will be published by Dramatists Play Service, and BFF will be included in the anthology New Playwrights: The Best Plays of 2007 (Smith and Kraus). A graduate of Yale, she holds an MFA from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Anna Ziegler's poetry has appeared in The Best American Poetry 2003, The Threepenny Review, The Michigan Quarterly Review, Reactions, The Mississippi Review, Arts and Letters, Mid-American Review, Smartish Pace, The Saint Ann's Review, and many other journals.

Simon Levy's directing credits at the Fountain are numerous, including: The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore; The Gimmick, starring Dael Orlandersmith (winner, 2007 L.A. Ovation Award for Solo Performance); Master Class (winner, Ovation Award for Best Production); Daisy in the Dreamtime; Going to St. Ives (which went to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival); The Night of the Iguana; Summer & Smoke (winner, Ovation Award for Best Production); The Last Tycoon, which he wrote and directed (5 Back Stage West Garland awards, including Best Adaptation and Direction); and Orpheus Descending (6 Drama-Logue awards, including Best Production and Direction); among many others. He's currently writing the stage version of Tennessee Williams' novella, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, courtesy of the Williams Estate. What I Heard About Iraq, which he wrote and directed, has been produced worldwide, including at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where it won the 2006 Fringe First Award; the Adelaide Fringe Festival where it won the 2007 Fringe Award; by BBC Radio; and received a 30-city UK tour culminating in London. His stage adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby inaugurated the new Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis and is in preparation for a commercial run in London. He's produced many shows at the Fountain, including Victory, Exits and Entrances and After the Fall. His trilogy of Fitzgerald stage adaptations includes Tender is the Night, winner PEN USA Award for Drama.

Housed in a charming two-story complex in Hollywood, California, The Fountain Theatre is one of the most successful intimate theaters in Los Angeles, providing a nurturing, creative home for multi-ethnic theater and dance artists. Activities include a year-round season of fully produced new and established plays; The Fountain's bi-weekly Forever Flamenco! series, now in its seventh year; a New Plays developmental series; Educational Outreach Programs; and off-site presentations/tours. Fountain Theatre productions have won more than 160 awards for all areas of production, performance, and design, and The Fountain Theatre is the only intimate theater to win the Ovation Award for Best Production of a Play four times. Fountain projects have been seen in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Florida, New Jersey, Minneapolis and Edinburgh.

Recent highlights include its Off-Broadway production of Exits and Entrances in New York, worldwide readings/productions/tours of What I Heard About Iraq, the Ovation Award-winning Joe Turner's Come and Gone, the three-city tour of Sonidos Gitanos, the making of Sweet Nothing in my Ear into a movie for TV on CBS, and the recent Canadian premiere of Miss Julie: Freedom Summer in Vancouver and Toronto. The Fountain has been honored with a Certificate of Appreciation from the Los Angeles City Council for demonstrating years of artistic excellence and "enhancing the cultural life of Los Angeles." The Fountain Theatre was recently honored with a combination of 9 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle nominations and 4 LA Weekly Award nominations for its productions in 2008 of Victory by Athol Fugard and Gem of the Ocean by August Wilson.

Photograph 51 opens for press on Saturday, March 21, with performances Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm through May 3. Previews are scheduled on Saturday, March 14; Thursday, March 19; and Friday, March 20 at 8 pm, and on Sunday, March 15 at 2 pm. Tickets are $25.00 on Thursdays and Fridays and $28.00 on Saturdays and Sundays, except opening night (March 20), which is $30.00 and previews which are $15.00. On Thursdays and Fridays only, students with ID are $18.00 and seniors are $23.00. The Fountain Theatre is located at 5060 Fountain Avenue (at Normandie) in Los Angeles.

Secure, on-site parking is available for $5.00. The Fountain Theatre is air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible. For reservations and information, call (323) 663-1525 or go to www.FountainTheatre.com.

 


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