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Blooming Snapdragons

A thought-provoking play examining the story of the unsung women scientist who worked at the heart of the story of genetics. This will be followed by a panel discussion on the issues raised by the play.

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 the 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.


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Date and Time:

14 July 2010 at 7:00 pm


1 hour 30 minutes



The Royal Institution of Great Britain
21 Albemarle Street
+44 20 74 09 29 92

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Tickets cost £8 standard, £6 concession, £4 Ri Members

Available from:

www.rigb.org or by calling the Events team on 020 7409 2992 9.00am-5.00pm Monday to Friday.

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