Doug Wright’s brilliant play, I Am My Own Wife, is set to open at forrtyfivedownstairs later this month with award winning actor Ben Gerrard at the helm. Wright’s play examines the life of German woman Charlotte von Mahlsdorf who killed her father when she was a young child, and survived the holocaust and the later communist regime as a transvestite.
Wright spent many hours in conversation with von Mahlsdorf to formulate a breathtaking one man play of bravery and survival. The play was developed with the assistance of Moses Kaufman and the Tectonic Theater Project (The Laramie Project) and has won a plethora of awards including Drama Desks and Tonys.
Wright is possibly best known for his provocative tale of the Marquis de Sade in Quills but I Am My Own Wife won him the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
I Am My Own Wife is a visceral, potent examination of truth with all the blemishes. Gerrard loves that the play tears down our tendency to paint history in terms of goodies and baddies.
“The play is a very complicated love letter to someone Wright ultimately sees as flawed but loves nonetheless,” says Gerrard.”His script unfolds in such a way that the audience are also challenged to accept that nothing worth loving is perfect – and that ‘love’ is essentially embracing the dark and not just the light of another human being.”
In a performance that earned him a Sydney Theatre Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role in an Independent Production, 2016 AACTA Award nominee Gerrard (Molly. Open Slather, Outland) plays over 30 characters in this one-man tour de force to piece together von Mahlsdorf’s controversial life.
Wright has certainly created wonderfully exciting challenges for one actor with his script which Gerarrd describes as technically complex. Gerrad goes on to say that the complexity of the script requires immense preparation in order to have some freedom as a performer to still find the spontaneous; to still discover new things with each audience.
I Am My Own Wife is a story of survival, identity and change. Perhaps bleak to some, it is really the story of hope and fortitude and the strength of the human condition.
The play poses ,many significant questions and audiences will leave the theatre pondering these for some time.
Gerrad’s hope is that audiences: “Ask themselves what they’d do in Charlotte’s situation, to notice the mistakes mankind seems determined to make over and over, and to appreciate the strength of character it takes for people to remain individuals.”
January 17 – February 5