About The Legend of Louis Pasteur
The Legend of Louis Pasteur is a pandemic piece, not just because it was written during the pandemic, but because it was inspired by the scientific community's search to find a cure. As the search for new methods to create a vaccine began I was curious about the process behind the creation of the first vaccines and how they compared to modern attempts. After all, I have worked as a medical technologist in Microbiology laboratories for more than 40 years. I read about Jenner and his smallpox vaccine, but soon discovered that this process was known and carried out by agricultural communities long before he persuaded western society that it was an acceptable process. Where was the first vaccine developed from first principles? An article in Nature magazine lead me to a book called The Private Science of Louis Pasteur by Gerald Geisen, based on the personal notebooks of Pasteur, which were not made public until the 1970s almost a century after Pasteur's death, and here I found some of my answers. Not only did Pasteur create vaccines, but he was greatly responsible for the acceptance of the germ theory of infectious disease. And what a battle he had! In his very public skirmishes with the scientific elite of his time, he also developed all the skills of the modern showman. Also of great interest to me was his relationship with his chief medical assistant, Dr Emile Roux, who I have chosen as the narrator and central character of the play. Oh to be a fly on the wall of Pasteur's laboratory as they fought for their beliefs in the outside world while facing internal conflicts. I've tried to imagine what some of those conversations might have been like, and those discussions form the central core of the play.
And of course such drama deserves music. I've stayed relatively within the confines of the tonality of music of the day, but considering Debussy and Satie were active at the time in the same city, that gave me quite a lot of freedom. I hope I've captured the essence of the lyrics and sent them floating along, buoyed by melodies and harmonies that will entertain while at the same time heighten the drama of the events.
The Legend of Louis Pasteur is based around historical events and characters. I have shifted timelines and amalgamated characters in a few places for dramatic purposes, but this is generally a factual telling of Pasteur's story, coloured by Pasteur's own notes on the events and his scientific practices. Perhaps his biographers, among them relatives and co-workers who shaped public opinion about the great man, won't be too pleased to see this new version of events, but I found the story much more compelling and dramatic than the generally accepted biographies discovered in literature and on the big screen. I hope you agree.