Live theater is set to return to the Gem City this weekend as The Queen’s Players Theatre Troupe presents “I Am My Own Wife.”
Starring Dee Miller under the direction of Jacob Marquez, the one-actor play is scheduled to run at 7 p.m. June 19-20 at Laramie Dance Center, 170 N. Second St., Suite C., Laramie. Admission is free, and the production is sponsored by Wyoming Humanities.
University of Wyoming theater professor William Missouri Downs is set to lead an audience talk back following each night’s production.
“I Am My Own Wife,” which premiered in 2003, follows the life of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, a self-described “transvestite” who lived in Nazi-controlled Germany during World War II and Communist-controlled East Berlin following the war.
Von Mahlsdorf was born Lothar Berfelde. Following the war she began going by Lottchen, a nickname for Charlotte. She collected items from apartments once occupied by Jews and later from the households of Germans fleeing to West Germany, and these items became the start of the Grunderzeit Museum, a museum of everyday items.
Playwright Doug Wright drew on interviews with von Mahlsdorf to create the play, taking her own language and incorporating it into the work.
“It’s based on a real-life story,” said Amy Hollon, founder of The Queen’s Players.
Hollon said the play uses imagery to depict themes of transformation and reinvention, while also depicting someone who refused to conform during a time when it was dangerous to stand out.
“It’s a really interesting tale about somebody who refuses to be anything but who they believe they are,” Hollon said. “I like the message of the ‘other’ being represented so completely.”
She praised Miller, a musical theater student at the University of Wyoming, for juggling the play’s 27 different parts.
“I Am My Own Wife” was originally set to open in May until COVID-19 restrictions forced reconsideration.
Hollon said she’s been working with the office of Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon to adhere to current orders. As of earlier this week, the plan was to limit the audience to 25 members on a first-come, first-served basis. Now that orders have been adjusted, Hollon said she was still considering whether to alter those plans.
Chairs will be arranged in groups of two and each pair set six feet from other pairs.
“That way people can bring their dates,” she said.
She also considered holding the play outside, which would allow for a larger audience, but decided that would do a disservice to the work.
“It’s such an intimate piece,” she added.
Hollon said she’s looking forward to the discussion set to follow each production, and she knows Downs will challenge the audience to explore ideas they may not agree with.
“I want him to bring up things that might be uncomfortable for the audience because I want discussions to happen,” she said. “That’s the way change happens.”