World Premiere of MARY GETS HERS Comes to The Playwrights Realm

Mary Gets Hers runs September 11–October 7 in The Susan & Ronald Frankel Theater in The Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space.

By: May. 26, 2023
World Premiere of MARY GETS HERS Comes to The Playwrights Realm

The Playwrights Realm (Founding Artistic Director, Katherine Kovner; Executive Director, Roberta Pereira) presents their first production since 2020: Mary Gets Hers, the Off-Broadway debut of 2021/22 Realm Writing Fellow Emma Horwitz, directed by Josiah Davis, and inspired by Hrosvitha of Gandersheim's Abraham, or the Rise and Repentance of Mary. Set in a funhouse, slapstick vision of 10th Century Germany—where a raging plague is turning people into foam—Mary Gets Hers is the story of an abandoned orphan named Mary, found by two overzealous hermits. The men, whose monastic lifestyle consists of psalm-singing, wet cereal-slurping, and attempting discussions with God, scheme a saintly rescue mission to protect her purity at any and all costs. Mary, however, has other plans for herself. Horwitz teams with longtime collaborator Davis for a journey into tragicomic, fraught, and resonantly contemporary terrain with—as Horwitz describes in her script—the “beauty, hilarity, vital silliness and off-kilter sensibility” of Medieval illuminations. Mary Gets Hers runs September 11–October 7 in The Susan & Ronald Frankel Theater in The Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space, 511 West 52nd Street. Tickets go on sale August 8, and will be available Click Here.


With Mary Gets Hers, The Realm returns to producing after three years of refocusing its efforts on becoming a full-time playwrights service organization in response to the pandemic and the toll it took on artists. The Realm continues programs it initiated throughout that time, including the revamped Realm Playwrights program, extending funding and development opportunities to every playwright who's collaborated with the organization; Aspiring Playwrights, offering invaluable educational programming; and Script Share, giving aspiring playwrights a chance to discuss their scripts with industry professionals. These continue as the organization maintains the many other support systems and development programs that were already in place, and which have long been the bedrock of The Realm. Now, their multi-pronged approach to nurturing the careers of playwrights once again includes the possibility of introducing their imaginative worlds to audiences as fully-formed productions.


Continuing The Realm's commitment to caretakers in the arts, this production will also be a part of the organization's Radical Parent-Inclusion Project (RPI), with caretaking reimbursements for babysitters, after-school care, and adult caregivers available to anybody auditioning for the show and for the whole creative and production team. In addition, the run will include a matinee with free childcare, aimed at making it easier for caretakers to attend theater.


The story of Mary Gets Hers' path to production at The Realm encapsulates the organization's comprehensive approach to artistic development. The organization received a draft of the play through its open submissions and developed it within the Writing Fellowship, which awards four early-career playwrights with nine months of resources, workshops, and feedback designed to help them reach their professional and artistic goals. The company decided it would be the first play they'd produce in years when they saw the reading of it, directed by Horwitz's friend and collaborator Josiah Davis, at the INK'd Festival of New Plays—the culminating event for the Writing Fellowship.


The Playwrights Realm Founding Artistic Director Katherine Kovner says, “After three years of working within a different model, we were cautious about coming back to production. But Emma's poignant, funny play was everything we love about theater, and emphasizes production as a continuation of our support for the careers of Realm Playwrights. That this play is set within a pandemic—following the story of a girl locked into isolation emerging into the world and towards agency—made it an even better fit for our return to the stage in this moment of continued reemergence.”


Emma Horwitz first encountered the 10th century play by Hrosvitha—a subject of debate in feminist scholarship, but seldom performed—when her friend, director Kate Bergstrom, suggested she read it. Horwitz picked up the play surrounding the life of an orphan, amidst a time of consecutive losses in her own life, and recalls feeling that the character of Mary “felt like she was speaking to [her] through this 10th century cannoness's parable drama comedy.” The text, which focuses on a young woman whom society catapults betweens extremes of what's perceived to be purity and sin further piqued her interests as a writer, and allowed her to engage more deeply with “progressive Medievalisms.” She began a loose adaptation, approaching it with a “bizarro, absurd, and high-octane” humor reminiscent of her friendship with Bergstrom. As she continued working on the play, a heartfelt center emerged, alongside its “Marx brothers-ian” antics.


Josiah Davis, who was in Brown's graduate MFA program for directors at the same time Horwitz was a graduate playwriting student, teamed with her on a workshop as part of the annual Writing is Live Festival. Through this concentrated time working together, they were able to share in mutual excitement for one another's artistry, and begin to flesh out the possibilities for this play in three-dimensions. Horwitz's play explores religion as a vessel for both humanity's loving and oppressive tendencies—and both Horwitz and Davis, as Davis describes, “carry tensions with [their respective] religious backgrounds that inform how this play can be simultaneously irreverent and reverent.” When Horwitz became a Writing Fellow at The Realm with an early draft of the play, and The Realm presented her with the opportunity to connect with directors in different stages of their careers, Horwitz emphasized there was only one artist she wanted to bring this production to life: Davis. 


Horwitz says of her time developing the play at The Realm, “They gave me permission to ask the big question of what adaptation can mean. This play felt like I was experiencing some kind of personal pandemic of people dying one after the other after the other. And then, at The Realm, we began revisiting it during the actual pandemic, which led us to reframe this play but not change its core or its heart or the things that drew it to us in the first place. The Realm was really on board with my exploring the perimeters of adaptation, and seeing how transgressing them could bring me closer to the kernel of what brought me to the original text in the first place.”


Davis says, “The roots just got deeper as we understood what it means to deal with a plague; what it means to be locked in a room or in a single space for an interminable amount of time; what it means to get out of that space and re-figure out how to live again. All of those things were momentum bringing us to this moment. At the same time, this play is about love, and since the beginning, when we were working on it at Brown, Emma and I have made a little bubble of joy with it, where we could go to at the end of the day after all the bullshit and figure out a way to laugh.”

World Premiere of MARY GETS HERS Comes to The Playwrights Realm


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