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Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Share Your Theater Story 2019: Judith Pratt

Thanks to Judith Pratt for sharing her theater story.


My play MAIZE was chosen as one of three plays to be part of the Lousiana State University Baton Rouge SciArts Festival. It was a wonderful experience.
We were paid, *and* we were flown to Baton Rouge and put up in very large and comfortable dormitory suites. We were shown around the city, and even invited to a Mardi Gras Krewe party!  Thanks, Vince LiCata! Vince is a plant geneticist and a playwright.
Each play got a rehearsed reading. My director, Rachel Aker, not only got a fine cast, which she directed well, but took two of us (all three playwrights were women!) to Sephora because we lacked essential makeup. 
The other playwrights were Jacqueline Bircher, "Another Revolution" and Kristin Idaszak, "The Surest Poison." Both are on the New Play Exchange. Check them out. (I'm there, too!) 
Maize is about real people: Barbara McClintock, a Nobel-winning maize geneticist, her friend Marcus Rhodes, and her protege, Nina Federoff, as well as James Watson of DNA-structure fame. It also includes a young version of Barbara. 
I was especially lucky to get Thomas Eldon Anderson and Cristine Mcmurdo-Wallis as Marcus and Barbara. Cristine has acted at Portland Stage, Seattle Rep, and the Mark Taper Forum, to name a few. Tom went to Ithaca College--in the town where I live--and we know a lot of the same people! Glenn Underwood played Jim, and Victoria Myssik played Young Barbara. 
Kaitlin Kerr played Nina. She did it very well. She did it especially well, because the real Nina Federoff was in the audience. I was terrified, but Dr. Federoff was both genial and fascinating. Vince, Rachel and I met her for coffee on the morning of the performance, and we talked about plant genetics. After the show, Dr. Federoff immediately talked with and congratulated the cast.  
In the talk-back, I learned that I made only one huge error in the script--now fixed!
Dr. F. is a is Senior Science Advisor regarding the use of modern molecular methods for improving agricultural plants, animals and microorganisms. She advised the federal government on these things, while maintaining her lab at Penn State University. If she has time, she will check some of the other science in MAIZE. 
Dr. Federoff gave a talk about GMO isssues. If you are opposed to anything GMO, consider this:  
Genetically Modified Banana in Uganda 13 - YouTube
Or consider mosquitoes bearing the Zika virus. Spray for them, killing bees and possibly hurting humans, or release GMO created sterile male mosquitoes and reduce the mosquito population by as much as 90%.
Rant over!  I am hoping that the Louisiana State Theatre Department continues. Theatre can do a lot to make science interesting and accessible. 
p.s. hmmm, maybe a play about GMO issues?

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