Directing the world premiere of Robin’s “Alice in Black and White” was one of the most inspiring directing opportunities I’ve had. Robin’s script captures the spirit of Alice Austen to such an extent that the whole acting company felt her spirit in the rehearsal room. It was an honor to help lift up the unheard story of a pioneer documentary photographer and a woman whose story was almost lost to history.
– Kathi E.B. Ellis, director
5F; 2-3M (one male character may be doubled).
True story of the first female photo-journalist, Alice Austen, with themes that are in the news today. In 1876 10- year-old Alice falls in love with photography. She spends her life struggling against social conventions which dictate marriage and home-centered activities for women. She chooses to share her life with Gertrude Tate and continue photography in the face of mounting difficulties: her relatives die; the Staten Island family’s wealth is wiped out in the Stock Market crash; crippling arthritis.
Parallel story: In 1951 Oliver Jensen finds elderly Alice in a poorhouse, crippled and in a deep depression. He has been trying to locate her photographs for a book on American women in history. In the play Oliver’s more modern story parallels Alice’s until they meet (as they actually did) at the poorhouse. He rescues her from obscurity.
WORLD PREMIERE: Kentucky Center, Looking for Lilith Theatre Company.
NEW YORK PREMIER: 59E59 Theatre, Looking for Lilith Theatre Company.
SET REQUIREMENTS: May be performed on a bare stage with set pieces.
— ALICE IN BLACK AND WHITE was named one of the top 12 plays in the prestigious Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation Competition (2016).
— Winner of StageWrite Women’s Theatre Initiative at The Great Plains Theatre Conference.
NOTES: Alice’s photographs are on display at the Alice Austen House, Staten Island, NY. For more information: aliceausten.org.
I loved it. Moved to tears in the end. …as always with great writing, it’s never just about the subject but many other things. It provides context and resonance, giving us natural truths we still fight for.
– Carl Oprey, director (NYC, Los Angeles, London)
For inquiries, contact the playwright.