Science Lecture Series 2019 presents “MANYA” A Living History of Marie Curie

Saddleback’s Science Lecture Series takes a new turn with a performance by Susan Marie Frontczak.


On April 24, 2019, the division of mathematics, science and engineering presented a performance at the science math lecture hall as part of Saddleback’s Science Lecture Series, which was made possible by the associated student government. The 2-hour long solo performance was introduced by Saddleback Biology Instructor Dr. Tony Huntley.

“The best stage science math owns, you’re in it,” Huntley said.

Before Susan Marie Frontczak was a performer she earned a B.S in Engineering from Swarthmore College and a Masters in Software Engineering from the Wang Institute of Graduate Studies, going on to work at Hewlett-Packard Company for fourteen years before deciding to pursue writing and performing full time. Frontczak has brought literature and history to life through her ten living history programs and has performed MANYA: The Living history of Marie Curie and A Visit with Marie Curie over 400 times. Her work through the living history program has allowed her to take audiences back in time to experience the lives of influential women in history.

“This is living history, there’s no fourth wall between me and you,” Frontczak said.

In her performance, Frontczak pays homage to the polish culture she shares with Marie Curie. Curie is one of the most influential women in science for her part in the discovery of 2 elements radium and polonium. This performance covers her life up until this point and some of the trails she encountered.

The story is set in Paris 1915, where she produced needles containing radium emanation that could be used to sterilize infected tissue. Her discovery of radium and the implementation of X-ray units helped millions of wounded soldiers during World War 1. We get a glimpse into Marie Curie’s life and work through this performance by Frontczak. The audience is taken through the best and some of what could be the worst moments of Frontczaks life from her and her husband’s discovery of Radium and Polonium to her husband’s tragic death. Through the living history performance, we are taken back to the time of Marie Curie and get to see those struggles and accomplishments first hand which is truly captivating.

“The weight of progress was neither swift or easy,”
Frontczak said.

From the start of the show, we get to see Curies struggle to get her education amidst financial and otherworldly struggle which had consumed much of her life. And we see how passionate Curie is about education and how determined she is to study mathematics, physics, and other subjects. She believed, “education is the hope of the polish people.”

After the performance, Frontczak received a standing ovation and answered questions from the audience. Frontczak recalled why she started the living history program and why she has decided to take on the role of Marie Curie in this performance.

“I did it for 10 years as a hobby, it’s almost like she tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘its time’ and I wanted to give because I love science and wanted to inspire people.”

Susan Marie Frontczak continues to inspire many with her performances giving us a look into the lives of some of the most influential women in history. Some of her roles include Eleanor Roosevelt, Mary Shelley and Clara Barton.