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The original item was published from 1/24/2022 9:16:00 AM to 1/30/2022 12:00:09 AM.

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Posted on: January 21, 2022

[ARCHIVED] The Half-Life of Marie Curie brings science and scandal to CPAC

Half-Life of Marie Curie at Cookeville Performing Arts Center

COOKEVILLE – A seaside retreat on the British coast – that’s where Marie Curie joins her friend and colleague Hertha Ayrton following a scandal that tarnished her scientific achievements in the public eye.

In 1911, Curie had won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for her discovery of the elements radium and polonium. Just one year later, she was the object of ruthless gossip over an alleged affair with married Frenchman Paul Langevin.

Audiences are invited to join these brilliant women – both of whom are mothers, widows and fearless champions of scientific inquiry – at Cookeville Performing Arts Center for The Half-Life of Marie Curie, which opens tonight at 7:30 p.m. and continues Jan. 22, 25, 27, 28 and 29 at 7:30 p.m. and Jan. 23 at 2 p.m. 

The show, part of CPAC’s award-winning Backstage Series, is directed by CPAC veteran Steve Gwilt and stars Kate Breidert as Curie and Jennifer Williams as Ayrton. 

“Marie Curie discovered Radium and Polonium, won two Nobel Prizes and coined the term ‘radioactivie,’” Gwilt said. “In The Half-Life of Marie Curie, she speaks of radiation and half-life as ‘the process by which an element changes itself entirely… shedding themselves to the point of abandonment.’ Playwright Lauren Gunderson has created a play that reveals Curie’s reasons to empathize with that thought, given tremendous obstacles and elements in her personal and scientific life.”

Curie, age 44 in the setting of this play, is described as a brilliant, shrewd, private and patient scientist; Ayrton, 47, is a brazen, ambitious and fiercely intelligent engineer, inventor and suffragist.

Though tied to a certain time, place and person, the show contains dialogue about issues and social roles that are relevant and timely today, Gwilt said.

For ticket information, call CPAC’s box office at 931-528-1313 or visit

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