Actress to portray pioneering geneticist in one-woman show

The scientific creative process comes alive in a one-woman performance this month. An actress and dancer from Massachusetts, Sharon Wyrrick performs her acclaimed portrayal of a pioneering woman geneticist in The Search for Barbara McClintock at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, at the Olin Arts Center Concert Hall, 75 Russell St.

Using movement, poetry, prose, music and visuals, Wyrrick offers both a multifaceted portrait of McClintock and insights into the creative process that scientists and artists share. Based in North Adams, Mass., the actress draws from McClintock’s life and and her own adventures in researching the scientist to construct a dynamic performance.

“I respond to the particular situation in which I am performing: the audience, their reactions and my intuition in the moment, choosing what stories and in what order to share them,” Wyrrick says.

McClintock (1902-1992) was one of the few women scientists working in the early years of genetics. She is best-known for discovering movable genetic elements, popularly called “jumping genes,” revealed through her meticulous and passionate work with Indian corn.

When McClintock made her groundbreaking observations in the 1940s, the working model was that genes lay in a fixed order along the length of a chromosome. The awarding of the Nobel Prize to McClintock in 1983, decades after her key research, reflects the challenge her ideas presented to conventional wisdom, Wyrrick says.

The event is sponsored by the Society for Women in Math and Science (SWIMS), the Women and Scientific Literacy Project and Sigma Xi, an international nonprofit research society. The public is invited to attend free of charge.

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