Nellie and the Women of Blackwell

Kate Szekely and Ashley Adelman star in Infinite Variety Productions' Nellie and the Women of Blackwell at Wildrence in the Lower East Side. Original photos from the company.
Will this immersive play make you feel like a patient in a 19th century asylum?

By Andrew Andrews

As a young woman, Elizabeth Cochran Seaman was dissatisfied with her era’s opinion of the usefulness—or rather, uselessness—of women, and set out to prove the world wrong as a stunt reporter under the pen name Nellie Bly.

After The New York World agreed to let her feign insanity to investigate conditions at the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island, the collected articles were published as the book Ten Days in a Mad-House. Bly achieve lasting fame as a result, and the report led to reforms in the public mental health system.

In Nellie and the Women of Blackwell, about a dozen guests are asked to enter the asylum with Nellie and assist her on her journey, experiencing first-hand some of the abuses that Bly later exposed, and witnessing others in an immersive environment.

Nicole Orabona and Janessa Floyd each contribute multiple characters to the production.

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Andrew Andrews attended Nellie and the Women of Blackwell at Wildrence in New York on Saturday, February 1, 2020 @ 7:00pm to write this review.

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