The show is currently tracked for 10 Performers. All roles are to be played by performers who identify their gender as cis-female, transgender, or non-binary.
Performer 1: (Age 30-40, Caucasian, Cis-female) Doctor Mary Edwards Walker
Performer 2: (Age 18-25, African-American, Flexible Gender) Mary Jane Elizabeth Richards Bowser (Lizzie)
Performer 3: (Age 20-30, Irish-American, Transgender or Non-Binary) Jennie/Levi Hooke
Performer 4: (Age 30-40, Caucasian, Cis-female) Miss Van Lew
Performer 5: (Age 30-35, Flexible Ethnicity, Flexible Gender) Albert, North Carolinian, Confederate Guard, Richmonder, Customer, General, Andrew Johnson, Suffragette
Performer 6: (Age 40-50, African-American, Flexible Gender)
Deputy, Mama, Student, South Carolinian, Louisianan, Tennessean, Wilson, Union Soldier, House Cook, Richmonder, 1st General, Crowd, Army Officer 1
Performer 7: (Age 25-35, Caucasian, Flexible Gender)
Sheriff, John, Thomas, Varina, Clerk, Schoolgirl 1
Performer 8: (Age 45-55, Flexible Ethnicity, Flexible Gender)
Alvah, Mr. Van Lew, George, Mary Todd, General Butler,
Captain Alexander, Richmonder, Crowd, Suffragette
Performer 9: (Age 40-60, Flexible Ethnicity, Flexible Gender)
Judge, Miss Schumer, Floridian, Arkansan, Jefferson Davis,
Suffragette, Army Officer 2
Performer 10: (Age 30-40, Flexible Ethnicity, Flexible Gender) Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Miss Dupree, Mississippian, Texan, Denis, Vesta, Union Registrant, Urchin, General, Crowd
Options for instrumentation of the bluegrass/Appalachian-inspired score include:
Six-piece orchestration consisting of a woodwind double, acoustic guitar, violin/fiddle, piano, bass and drums.
Ten-piece orchestration consisting of a woodwind double, acoustic guitar, banjo, violin/fiddle, viola, cello, piano, synthesizer, bass and drums.
In the decade leading up to the American Civil War, the paths of three people—MARY WALKER, MARY JANE ELIZABETH RICHARDS (LIZZIE) BOWSER, and JENNIE HOOKE (pronouns he/him)—are destined to change one another forever.
MARY WALKER: One of the United States’ first female doctors, Mary Walker has set up a joint practice with her husband, ALBERT. The townspeople of Rome, New York are hesitant to be treated by a female doctor, particularly one who wears pants instead of “appropriate women’s clothing”. Mary is repeatedly arrested for her improper attire, and Albert’s patience wears thin. Mary later discovers her husband having an affair with a patient. Albert refuses to grant Mary a divorce, so she heads to the front lines of the Civil War in order to realize her full potential as a Union surgeon. When the army initially rejects her, she boldly heads to the battlefields to prove her worth.
LIZZIE BOWSER: In Richmond, Virginia, a teen-aged house slave, LIZZIE, tends to her mistress, ELIZABETH VAN LEW. Miss Van Lew attempts to demonstrate Lizzie’s intelligence and photographic memory to her father, but he is unimpressed. Upon her father’s death, Miss Van Lew gains control of the estate, freeing Lizzie and her family. She secures Lizzie an education at the Quaker School for Negroes in Philadelphia, where Lizzie meets her husband, WILSON BOWSER. As war tensions escalate, the couple returns to Richmond to convince Lizzie’s family to move North. Miss Van Lew, now using her resources to run a Union spy ring, asks Lizzie to join the cause. Reluctantly, Lizzie agrees to pose as an illiterate slave to JEFFERSON DAVIS, using her photographic memory to steal secrets from the Confederate White House.
JENNIE HOOKE: In the Irish tenements of Savannah, Georgia, orphans JENNIE and THOMAS HOOKE work long hours for low wages as they struggle to survive. When the Confederacy calls for soldiers, Thomas enlists and reveals that he has sold Jennie to be an indentured servant. Mistreated by MISS SCHUMER, Jennie flees and dons a Confederate uniform to search for Thomas on the battlefield.
ALL TOGETHER: Mary scours a Virginia battlefield for wounded soldiers. She happens upon a soldier, Levi (Jennie), badly injured and dying. As Mary begins performing surgery, she discovers Levi’s sex. She completes the surgery, and, when encountered by a Union soldier, does not betray Levi’s identity. Levi thanks her and leaves to continue looking for his brother.
Venturing across enemy lines, Mary is caught and imprisoned at a Confederate prisoner of war camp. She once again crosses paths with Levi, whose search for Thomas has led him to be stationed there. Jefferson Davis, accompanied by Lizzie, pays Mary a surprise visit. Left alone for a brief moment, Lizzie discloses her Union ties. Levi discovers the two talking and attacks Lizzie. He relents when Lizzie offers to reveal the whereabouts of his brother, but is devastated to learn that Thomas died at the Battle of Fredericksburg. Levi remains in the camp in order to provide cover and protection for Lizzie and Mary.
After several months, and with the help of Lizzie and Miss Van Lew, Mary is traded for a Confederate Major and released. Vice-President Andrew Johnson presents Mary with the Congressional Medal of Honor. Though publically strong, she is deeply shaken by the war, and, because of vision loss suffered in the camp, is unable to continue her calling as a surgeon.
After the Union wins the war, Mary and Levi once again meet as Mary stumps for women’s suffrage. Levi reveals that once Mary was freed, he fled to Illinois, and continues to live as a man. Unable to understand, Mary disagrees with Levi’s choice and is envious of the rights he now possesses. Levi criticizes Mary’s stubbornness and disloyalty, returning to Illinois.
At the Van Lew Estate, Lizzie drives away her husband as she struggles to recover from the physical and emotional abuse she suffered during the war. Furious that Miss Van Lew unapologetically put her in the path of so much harm, Lizzie flees the estate. Mary visits Miss Van Lew, hoping to thank Lizzie for her help in securing her release. When Miss Van Lew expresses her shame and guilt over the horrors Lizzie endured, Mary begins to see the struggles and sacrifices of those around her.
Mary receives word her father is dying and returns home, only to lose each of her family members, one by one. Albert shows up to express his condolences and make amends, hand delivering the signed divorce papers. Though she is finally free of Albert, this leaves Mary well and truly alone.
Congress revokes Mary’s Medal of Honor. With no family, friends, or career, Mary contemplates ending her own life. When soldiers show up to reclaim the medal, she refuses to relinquish it, claiming it for Lizzie, Miss Van Lew, Levi, and all who have to fight for their equal place in the world. Despite the risk of being labeled “uncivil”, she pins the medal to her coat and vows to persist.
Finalist for Live & In Color
O'Neill National Music Theater Conference Semi-Finalist
Finalist for the Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
Finalist for Latte Da NextFest in Minneapolis
2018 Rhinebeck Finalist
Friday Night Footlights
Syracuse/Oswego Research Trip
Oregon Coast Writer's Retreat (4 day retreat with actors)
Merrimack Repertory Theatre Writer's Residency