Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Ain Gordon World Premiere Set for Painted Bride Arts Center

1972: Dr. John Fryer dons an oversize tuxedo and rubber joke shop mask to become Dr. Henry Anonymous and confront the American Psychiatric Association with these words: "I am a homosexual, I am a psychiatrist." The latest work by renowned theatre artist Ain Gordon, 217 Boxes of Dr. Henry Anonymous, is a new play drawn from the 217 boxes of archive materials from national LGBT activist of Dr. John Fryer discovered by Ain Gordon during his two-year embedded artist status at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP). This new work is set to run, May 5-7, at the Painted Bride Arts Center, 230 Vine Street. All performances are at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $20. Painted Bride and Historical Society of Pennsylvania members can save $5. Tickets and more information are available online at or by phone at 215.925.9914.

217 Boxes of Dr. Henry Anonymous focuses on three individuals that intersect in Dr. Fryer's life. The first is Alfred A. Gross. As Executive Secretary to the George W. Henry Foundation in New York City, Gross primarily assisted homosexual men "in trouble with the law." Fryer joined these efforts in the mid-to-late 60's. The second is Katherine M. Luder, who spent twenty-four years as Fryer's personal secretary. She was hired one year after the Dr. Anonymous speech and worked right up to her death at the age of 91. The final person is Ercel Fryer, Dr Fryer's father. The elder Fyer was born in Kentucky in 1901 and he exchanged letters with his son throughout his life. He died in 1970.

The opening night performance of the 217 Boxes of Dr. Henry Anonymous will include a free reception co-hosted with the project producers in partnership with the Equality Forum and the William Way LGBT Community Center.

The Artist Embedded project is led by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in collaboration with Ain Gordon's Pick Up Performance Co(s) and the participation of Painted Bride Art Center. Artist Embedded is made possible with funding from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

Pick Up Performance Co(s) Artist Bios

Ain Gordon (writer/director) is a three-time Obie Award-winning writer/director/actor, a two time NYFA recipient and a Guggenheim Fellow in Playwriting. Gordon's work has been seen at BAM Next Wave, New York Theatre Workshop, Soho Rep., Public Theatre, 651 ARTS, Dance Theater Workshop, PS 122, Baryshnikov Arts Center, and HERE (all NY); Mark Taper Forum (CA), George Street Playhouse (NJ), Vermont Performance Lab, Flynn Center (VT), Krannert Center (IL), Connecticut College, MASS MoCA, Baltimore Museum of Art (MD), DiverseWorks (TX), VSA North Fourth Arts Center (NM), Jacob's Pillow (MA) and twice before at the Painted Bride. Collaborations: with S? Percussion at the Walker (MN), BAM Next Wave (NY), River To River (NY), Philadelphia Fringe, etc; with Emily Johnson at NYLA, ODC (CA), On The Boards (WA); with Bebe Miller at Wexner (OH), Helena Presents (MT), etc; with David Gordon at American Repertory Theatre (MA), American Conservatory Theater (CA) and American Music Theatre Festival (PA). Gordon was an original Off-Broadway cast member of Spalding Gray: Stories Left To Tell and toured to UCLA, PICA(OR), ICA Boston (Elliot Norton Award nom), the Walker (MN), and New Territories (UK), etc. 2011-13 Gordon was Visiting Artist at the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Co-Director of the Pick Up Performance Co(s) since 1992.

Laura Esterman (Katherine M. Luder) appeared in Ain Gordon's play Not What Happened at the Baryshnikov Center in NYC. Of the many plays she has done on and off Broadway, the most recent are Card and Gift at Clubbed Thumb and Intimacy at the New Group. For her work in Marvin's Room she received the Obie, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics' Awards.

Derek Lucci (Alfred A. Gross) has collaborated with Ain Gordon over the past dozen years. Projects include this first staging of 217 Boxes, The History of Asking the Wrong Question and AGAP?. Theater: Old Comedy at Classic Stage Company, Warren Leight's Amici Ascoltate at the Duke with Naked Angels and in Summer Shorts at 59 E 59 Street. Betrothed at the Ohio with Ripetime. David Gordon's Aristophanes in Birdonia at St. Marks and Uncivil Wars at The Kitchen, Terra Firma's Cries And Whispers, An Enemy Of The People at the Shakespeare Theater. Lady Windermere's Fan and On the Razzle at Williamstown Theater Festival; Frugal Repast and Slay The Dragon at the O'Neill Theater Center; Rinne Groff's Of A White Christmas (What Then) at Clubbed Thumb; Stendahl Syndrome at Primary Stages. Lewis Black's One Slight Hitch. TV/FILM: Law And Order, Law And Order, Criminal Intent; Alix Pearlstein's After The Fall and Goldrush; Goodnight Kiss; Cadmium Green Deep - Adjunct Faculty at NYU Tisch School for the Arts, Experimental Theater Wing. Head of Primary Actor Training at Tisch/Playwrights Horizons. M.F.A Yale School of Drama.

Ken Marks (Ercel Fryer) has worked with Ain on projects for over 20 years. Broadway: Dancing at Lughnasa, Present Laughter, Mamma Mia! (Original Broadway Cast), After the Fall, Spring Awakening, Tom Stoppard's Rock n' Roll, Hairspray, and originated the role of Uncle Ben in Spider-man: Turn off the Dark. Favorite Off Broadway: Bethany (written by his wife, the playwright Laura Marks), Editor Webb in the historic Our Town at Barrow Street, Stuff Happens (NYSF), Larry Olivier in Orson's Shadow (Barrow Street), The Internationalist (Vineyard), and the original production of A Bright Room Called Day by Tony Kushner (NYSF). Also work at The Guthrie, Yale Rep, Seattle Rep, Longwharf, ACT, Mark Taper Forum. TV: Recurring on Elementary, The Knick, various Law & Orders, Life on Mars, New Amsterdam. Film: Kelly & Cal, Side Effects, Henry's Crime, Step Up 3D, The Wackness, Bad Bride and The Good Wife.

About Pick Up Performance Co(s)

Founded in 1971 and incorporated in 1978 (as Pick Up Performance Co., Inc.) to facilitate projects by David Gordon, the company was expanded in 1992 to include projects by Ain Gordon and renamed Pick Up Performance Co(s) in recognition of our dual father/son leadership with independent projects by each artist. PUPCos continues to be artist-led with multi-generational NYC roots supporting the wide-roaming interests of both artists in dance, theater, media, social practice, and the fusing of disciplines. This work manifests annually in both our hometown and nationally. For 44 years PUPCos has charted a personal aesthetic path.

About the Painted Bride Arts Center
Painted Bride Art Center brings together artists, audiences and communities to push the boundaries of how we create and experience art. We cultivate an environment for critical dialog and playful exchange to transform lives and communities.

Founded in 1969 by a group of visual artists, Painted Bride Art Center is part of the Alternative Space movement of the 1960s and 70s. In an era when underrepresented artists-women, gays and lesbians, people of color, the disabled, etc.-struggled to gain recognition from commercial institutions, the Alternative Space movement was dedicated to maximizing cultural diversity and visibility in the arts. Within a small network of organizations, Painted Bride Art Center strove to grant artists of every stripe full control over their work and a platform for their vision.

Deriving its name from its original location-a former bridal shop on South Street-Painted Bride Art Center began as an effort to challenge modern assumptions about art and give every artist the platform they deserved. Today, the Bride is an innovative, internationally-lauded arts institution that remains strongly rooted in its mission and the needs of Philadelphia's creative communities.

46 years later, Painted Bride Art Center remains an artist-centered space, fully committed to the creative process, the artist's role in the community, and artistic diversity.

In its unique performance space, Painted Bride Art Center presents music, dance, and theater, as well as visual arts exhibitions in its two galleries. The Bride engages artists in outreach and workshop activities to elicit deeper, more meaningful dialogue with audiences and communities; some examples include ongoing residencies, public gallery talks where visual artists discuss creative process, post-performance meet-and-greets, and in-school presentations for students between Kindergarten and 12th grade.

About the Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Founded in 1824 in Philadelphia, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania inspires people to create a better future through historical understanding. One of the oldest historical societies in the United States, it is home to some 600,000 printed items and more than 21 million manuscript and graphic items. Its unparalleled collections encompass more than 350 years of America's history-from its 17th-century origins to the contributions of its most recent immigrants. The society's remarkable holdings together with its educational programming make it one of the nation's most important special collections libraries: a center of historical documentation and study, education, and engagement.

The society is one of the largest family history libraries in the nation, has preeminent printed collections on Pennsylvania and regional history, and offers superb manuscript collections renowned for their strength in 17th-, 18th-, and 19th-century history. With the addition of the holdings of The Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies in 2002 (and those of The Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania in 2006 through a Strategic Alliance Agreement), the Society has become a chief center for the documentation and study of the ethnic communities and immigrant experiences shared by people whose American history began more recently-between the late 19th century and our own times. In 2009 HSP formally transferred ownership of its museum collection to the Atwater Kent Museum of Philadelphia.

The Society's building at 1300 Locust Street was designed by Addison Hutton and is listed on the City of Philadelphia's Register of Historical Places.

Related Articles View More Philadelphia Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You