Miss Holmes

by Christopher M. Walsh
based on characters by Arthur Conan Doyle
directed by Jessica Jackson

An anonymous note, a fearful wife, and a pair of curious shoes? Sounds like a perfect case Holmes and Watson. Ah but there’s a twist: Miss Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Dorothy Watson sleuth their way through the twists and turns of this classic mystery. The Chicago Tribune calls it “a cunning and highly enjoyable gender-bent take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s maddeningly brilliant detective.” If you fancied Around the World in 80 Days, you’ll love the lightning-quick pace and skillful character swaps of Miss Holmes. The game’s afoot!

Venue: Main Stage
Genre: Detective, Mystery, Suspense
Rating: PG for some suspense

ABOUT THE SHOW 

Creative Team
Director – Jessica Jackson
Scenic/Lighting Design – Matthew Schlief
Costume Design – Tatyana De Pavloff
Sound Design – Becca Pearce
Fight Choreographer – John DiAntonio
Asst. Director – Dustin Bronson

Management Team
Stage Manager – Devon Muko*
Asst. Stage Manager – Alex Skaar

Cast
Sherlock Holmes – Kate Berry*
Dorothy Watson – Caitlin Wise*
Lizzie Chapman/Peggy/Martha – Heather Michele Lawler*
Elizabeth Garrett Anderson/Mrs. Hudson/Eudora Featherstone – Stephanie Diaz*
Thomas Chapman/ Superintendent/Orderly – Scott Kuiper*
Mycroft Holmes/ Vagrant/Edwin Greener – Dustin Bronson*
Geoffrey Lestrade/Orderly – Logan Ernstthal*
Michael Stamford/Reginald/Orderly – Zayaz De Camara

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Director’s Note: Jessica Jackson
Were women to “unsex” themselves by claiming equality with men, they would become the most hateful, heathen, and disgusting of beings and would surely perish without male protection. – Queen Victoria in a private letter to Sir Theodore Martin, 1870.

I think he will probably come round in time, I mean to renew the subject pretty often. –  Dr. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson upon her father’s objection to her pursuit of medicine, 1860. She became Britain’s first female licensed physician.

I adore a juicy mystery. Keep me on the edge of my seat. Keep me guessing. Keep me one step behind the mind of the brilliant detective. In Miss Holmes, Christopher Walsh gives us two incredible mysteries: 1. Who is behind the mysterious letters and murders? 2. What if Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson were women?

Walsh wrote a play that turned on one simple alteration to literary history and its oceans of luminous male masterminds. Into that ocean he dropped a female Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. The females of 19th century literature are almost entirely supporting characters: virtuous wives, sisters who die of wasting diseases, and plucky virgins who become virtuous wives (or die of wasting diseases). Walsh’s play is entertaining, nostalgic, and gives Sherlock Holmes fans everything we love about his mysteries – while making the daring choice to place England’s greatest mind in the head of a woman.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote during a century that defined literature for the English-speaking world. This period gave us Dickens, the Brontes, Thackeray, Trollope, Collins, Eliot, Stevenson, Hardy, Wilde, both James’, Byron, Keats, the Shelleys, Kipling. During this same century, and arguably for every century prior, the acceptable range of women’s behavior and morality was perilously narrow. A woman’s destiny was to devote themselves to the domestic sphere and play supporting roles in the  adventures of husbands, brothers, fathers. Consequently, female characters played supporting roles in most of literature.

There are more female protagonists in today’s culture, but we haven’t gained as many as you’d think: In the top 100 grossing films of 2017, females comprised 24% of sole protagonists,  37% of major characters, and 34% of all speaking characters. My wish is that bookish nerd-girls like me see themselves reflected in the smart, brave, resilient characters named Holmes and Watson. You aren’t supporting characters in someone else’s story. You are the protagonist. Get out there. Catch the killer.

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Produced in special arrangement with Dramatic Publishing, Woodstock, Illinois.
*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.