Mary & Anna’s Adventures in Dirty, Wicked Omaha!

Written by:

Lynne Carol Martin

Artist/Creator(s) Identify As:

D/deaf, Disabled, and/or Mad

Cast Size:
13

Roles For:

  • Men: 7
  • Women: 6

Genre:

Comedy
Drama

Themes:

Addiction
Children
Crime
Drugs
Exploitation
Friendship
Hypocrisy
Power
Racism
Sex Work
Social Justice
Wisdom

Length:

90 min.

Year Written:

2024

Synopsis:

Based on historical facts, Mary and Anna’s Adventures in Dirty, Wicked Omaha imagines the beginnings of a remarkable real-life friendship that changed the face of frontier America. Anna Wilson, Omaha’s first and finest madam, approaches Mary Kimball, wife of a Union Pacific Railroad executive and founder of Omaha’s first charity, with an unusual proposition. Despite their surface differences, these women share Abolitionist values and are ardent social justice warriors at a time when Omaha is coming under the sway of crime boss Tom Dennison. Set in 1897-98, this play imagines how these older women join forces to resist Dennison’s power mongering, rescue a child from her life in the sex trade, and establish Anna’s life-giving legacy. In the process, Mary and Anna each fill a void in the other’s life, coming to love and respect one another while defying 19th century notions of respectability not so different from ours today.

Characters:

ANNA WILSON [born May 1835]: female, white Southern belle*, early 60s, but looks younger. Fashionable. Wears a diamond necklace.

THE CRIB GIRL/ (later) GRACE: age 12ish. Any gender or ethnicity; addressed as female. Dancer. Lives on the streets at first, smokes and drinks.

(TOM) DENNISON [born Oct. 1858]: Irish American*, 40ish. Physically imposing (historically over 6′ tall). Wears a bowler hat.

MARY (or MOLLY) KIMBALL [born June 1832]: female, white Puritan New Englander*, mid-60s. Dowdy clothes and out-of-date hairstyle.

THOMAS KIMBALL [born Oct. 1831]: male, Mary’s husband, white Puritan New Englander*, mid-60s. Could double as Henchman, Bert, Buffalo Bill Cody, and/or Guard.

ADA DENNISON [born Aug. 1867]: female, white American midwesterner, Dennison’s wife, 30ish; 6 months pregnant at first. Could double as Louisa, Phoebe Butler, and/or Guard.

LOUISA: female, any age or ethnicity. Could double as Ada, Phoebe, Guard.

HENCHMAN: male, any age or ethnicity.

BERT MILLER: male, any age or ethnicity.

BUFFALO BILL CODY: [born Feb. 26, 1846] male, early 50s; the famous Wild West showman; he wears long hair, a beard, a ten gallon hat and a fringed leather jacket.* (Could be mixed race, but appears white.)

PHOEBE BUTLER/ANNIE OAKLEY: [born Aug. 13, 1860] female, late 30s; tiny, fierce sharpshooter in Cody’s Wild West Congress.* (Could be mixed race, but appears white.)

CHARLIE: Buffalo Bill’s photographer; any age, gender, or ethnicity. Doesn’t speak; could be played by a stagehand.

GUARD: any age, gender, or ethnicity.

First Produced:

Author's short play "Houses," based on Scene Five of this play, was produced July 2022 by the Little Lion Theatre in London, UK, and June 2024 by the Lakeshore Players in White Bear Lake, MN.

Resources:

Play can be accessed by contacting the author at lynnemrtn@gmail.com

Notes:

Minimum 6 actors + stagehand; 13 characters (listed in order of appearance)

NOTE: Playwright encourages BIPOC/various-gendered/differently-abled casting whenever possible; the designated characteristics here* are historic and help with the story’s examination of stereotyping/racism. The Crib Girl could be nonbinary, though later will be dressed as a 19th century girl; they can be any ethnicity, as can Louisa and some of the smaller roles. If actors don’t need to double, there is more room for diverse casting. It could be 6-8 women, 6-8 men.

Warnings:

Includes instances of child exploitation, drug addiction, sex work, smoking, alcohol abuse