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  • Laura Loy

Creator's Note: The Trial of Typhoid Mary

The following is from the program of the original production of 'The Trial of Typhoid Mary' at Fringe Seacoast, July 2017:

Creator’s Note:

This play is the culmination of 2 years of creation and research into the life of Mary Mallon and the circumstances surrounding her isolation by the New York City Board of Health. Many thanks to all of the people who have made this production possible, most especially Autumn Pride Farm (Epping, NH), for giving me a residency to create this project.

The scope of the play is just before Mary Mallon’s original capture (1907), up through her habeas corpus hearing (1909). I felt that this time period exemplified the course of her life that led her to be remembered as ‘Typhoid Mary.’ A few players in the story have been condensed into two main characters of Mary Mallon and epidemiologist George Soper. Because of this, some lines are ‘mis-attributed’ in order to heighten drama. Much of the dialogue, especially in the case of George Soper, is primary source material. Because you can’t make this stuff up. Mary was also incredibly well spoken for her social class and level of education and many of her most passionate lines are taken directly from her letters and interviews.

The music is all original, props to my amazingly talented cohort Liz. The songs are written in the style of early twentieth century Irish fiddle music, as well as traditional protestant hymn structure.

There are so many complex layers to this story and we’re only looking at one angle in this show. Mary’s life had more interesting and tragic exploits in later years- if your interest is piqued, I highly recommend Judith Walzer Leavitt’s book Typhoid Mary: Captive to the Public’s Health, which was an indispensable resource for this production.

Fringe Seacoast marks this play’s first go in front of an audience- it is just a baby, ready to grow into something bigger. Any feedback you’d like to give would be most welcome- we’d love to know what ‘got’ you, what missed the mark, and anything else you feel like sharing. Thank you for coming along on the adventure!

-Laura Loy

Photo by Ron St. Jean Photography for Fringe Seacoast.

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