The Sequence: a play about the Human Genome Project

It turns out that Pasadena has a wonderful little theater called The Boston Court.  It’s a non-profit organization, producing some classics, but perhaps more interestingly, also some first-run original pieces by SoCal playwrites.  Michelle saw an adaptation of the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh there last year, and we went and saw 1001, a story weaving the Arabian Nights with commentary on the modern Arab-Israeli coflict and the War on Terror.  The casts are essentially dedicated amateurs – the auditions page lists a $300 rehearsal stipend, plus $25/performance.  The space is so small that there is no need for amplified sound, and the sets are fairly minimalist.  They have student discounts and matinees, and late night salons for discussion after the plays are performed.  I have a hard time imagining a better setting and scale for theater.  Even better, it’s easy biking distance, and they seem to have a bent toward plays that are relevant to the modern world.

On Friday, we went to see The Sequence, by Paul Mullin, who has also written about Louis Slotin’s death during the Manhattan Project due to a criticality accident while “tickling the dragon’s tail’, and The Ten Thousand Things, an exploration of the meaning of deep time in human society, inspired by The Clock of the Long Now.  The Sequence is a play about the Human Genome Project, and the race between Craig Venter‘s Celera, and the publicly funded project headed by Francis Collins, to complete the sequence first, and also about a young journalist, Kellie Silverstein, who is covering the race, who struggles with her own genetic destiny, knowing that her mother died from breast cancer due to the BRCA1 mutation, which she likely also carries.  The Sequence was commissioned by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.  Ironically, Mullin cannot afford to be a professional playwrite, and instead works in a clerical position at Amgen to pay the bills.  Like Copenhagen, the play has only three characters.

Continue reading The Sequence: a play about the Human Genome Project