Play: 'The Death and Life of Russian Genetics'

Scope and Content

A note on content by Prof. Peter Harper:

I wrote 'The Death - and Life - of Russian Genetics' in early 2005, over the course of just a few days. During the previous months I had been reading intensely a series of books on the destruction of Russian genetics, beginning in the late 1930s, and these had made a great impression on me, emotionally as well as scientifically.

The result was writing this play, into which a I put a great deal of feeling. At the time I had all the sources clearly in my mind and intended to annotate the play to make it more of a historical document and to make it clear that I had not invented any of the main events and facts. Unfortunately I did not do so, though given time I still might.

I had never previously written a play, or thought of doing so, so the format is antique, to say the least, based on a Shakespeare play perhaps, since that is all I am really familiar with. I envisaged that it might be adapted to appear as a 'side event' at a genetics meeting, but felt this was probably an unrealistic expectation. I gave it to a couple of colleagues to read, but had no response, so I think that no one except myself has actually read it until now!

In the course of compiling my archive I have re-read the play, and actually think it comes across very vividly. Of course one needs to know something about the background story, but this is so dramatic and terrible that it would hardly be possible to write anything that was not vivid.

I still hope that something can be made out of this work, essentially as a tribute to those who lived - and often died - during those terrible and bizarre years.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Digital