Sierra Madre Playhouse presents Independence: The True Story of Dr. Mary Walker

Feb 21, 2022
Independence: The True Story of Dr. Mary Walker

Sierra Madre Playhouse will present Independence: The True Story of Dr. Mary Walker. A show about the woman who was a battlefield surgeon, a prisoner of war, an abolitionist, a suffragist, and the only female recipient of the Congessional Medal of honor.

Dr. Mary Walker (1832-1919) was the first female surgeon in the U.S. Army, a suffragist, an abolitionist, a prohibitionist, endured four months in a Confederate prison and remains, to this day, the only woman out of over 3500 recipients to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, our country's highest honor.

Her ordeal as a prisoner of war had lifelong ramifications for her physical well-being, but she did not slow down. If anything, she became busier than ever. A militant believer in the equivalency of men and women, this extended to her appearance: she attired herself in "reform dress," a skirt over trousers, which she wore for comfort and freedom of movement. From an early age, she knew she wanted to be a doctor, was the only woman in her class at medical school and would not take 'No' for an answer. She also wrote articles for magazines and two books on the inequality of the genders. She was a feminist before the term was coined.

Her personal challenges included a philandering husband, sexism from dismissive men, and resentment from women who saw her as competitive or as 'a woman who didn't know her place' in a patriarchal society.

Her life was full of dramatic possibilities, and it is finally the subject of a solo play, INDEPENDENCE: The True Story of Dr. Mary Walker.

Performer Kathie Barnes inhabits the role of Mary Walker and brings her to vivid life on stage. Kathie's other stage appearances include roles in Dancing at Lughnasa (Beverly Hills Outlook Award nomination for Best Actress); The Dark at the Top of the Stairs;, The Old Neighborhood; What Are We Going to Say to Her?; Poems for Mary; and for Ray Bradbury's Pandemonium Theatre Company: Bradbury x 2 (ADA Award nomination for Best Actress), A Medicine for Melancholy; The Swan; and The Day It Rained Forever. Television appearances: All My Children; The Guiding Light; series regular in WB's Deception. Feature films include Jimmi, The Onion Movie, Speechifyin' (as Susan B. Anthony), and Bridge of Laughter.

Lloyd J. Schwartz is the director and playwright. A man of all media, he wrote for the TV series Love, American Style; Alice; The Munsters Today; The A Team, The Love Boat, Baywatch and more. As an ABC network executive, he supervised production on Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, What's Happening and Three's Company. With his father, TV legend Sherwood Schwartz, he co-created Harper Valley P.T.A. Lloyd also produced numerous iterations of the Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island franchises for feature films, television and stage. With his wife Barbara, Lloyd created the long-running Storybook Theatre at Theatre West. He has also had 34 produced plays.

INDEPENDENCE, The True Story of Dr. Mary Walker had its world premiere at The Women's Convention celebrating 100 years of the vote for women in New York state in Seneca Falls, New York in 2017.

This performance is your opportunity to see an exceptional actress portray a true American heroine.

INDEPENDENCE: The True Story of Dr. Mary Walker is part of the Sierra Madre Playhouse Solo Shows Festival, a distinctive series of dynamic stage presentations inspired by the lives of real people who left their marks on the historical and cultural landscapes.