Behind the Sheet

In 1846, Philomena is a pregnant enslaved woman assisting her owner, Dr. George Barry, as he tries to find the cure for fistulas and tending to his patients, other enslaved black women. Everything changes when he receives a new patient. Inspired by the life and experimentation of Dr. J Marion Sims and the lives of Anarcha, Lucy, and Betsey, three of the enslaved black women he worked on, Behind the Sheet...
In 1846, Philomena is a pregnant enslaved woman assisting her owner, Dr. George Barry, as he tries to find the cure for fistulas and tending to his patients, other enslaved black women. Everything changes when he receives a new patient. Inspired by the life and experimentation of Dr. J Marion Sims and the lives of Anarcha, Lucy, and Betsey, three of the enslaved black women he worked on, Behind the Sheet explores the untold stories behind the rise of modern gynecology.
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Behind the Sheet

Recommended by

  • Emma Goldman-Sherman:
    29 Sep. 2020
    Beautiful work! The language is so well-scored with a great ear for the rhythms of the rise and fall of the scenes. The play holds up a mirror to erased history that must be witnessed and known. Simpson does a terrific job bringing it all to light. This play is a gift and a blessing.
  • Libby Heily:
    30 Aug. 2020
    This play made me an instant fan of Charly Evon Simpson. The subject matter is gripping and heart breaking and Simpson never once flinches. She lets us see the cruelty in full force. There is also tenderness and love. I was lucky enough to see this at Ensemble Studio Theatre. I think this should be done in every state of the US at the bare minimum.
  • Rachel Bublitz:
    2 Jun. 2020
    This play is heartbreaking, beautifully written, and potentially nightmare inducing. It is a history I wish more people were aware of, disturbing as it is. Charly Evon Simpson always has so much depth to her characters, and this play is no different. She shows joy in a place one would imagine none would be found, and with this glimmer of joy the pain is that much more felt. Read this play, produce this play, live in this play, let yourself be uncomfortable and torn up with this look at history.

Development History

  • Reading
    ,
    Ensemble Studio Theatre
    ,
    2018
  • Workshop
    ,
    Ensemble Studio Theatre/Sloan Foundation
    ,
    2018
  • Commission
    ,
    Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science & Technology Project
    ,
    2016

Production History

  • Professional
    ,
    Ensemble Studio Theatre
    ,
    2019

Awards

The Kilroys List
,
2019
John Gassner Award nominee
,
Outer Critics Circle
,
2019