Immersive Nellie and the Women of Blackwell to Highlight the Injustices of a Real Mental Asylum

Off-Broadway News   Immersive Nellie and the Women of Blackwell to Highlight the Injustices of a Real Mental Asylum
The Infinite Variety Productions theatrical experience will begin January 30 at Wildrence.
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Nellie and the Women of Blackwell Samantha Szekely

An immersive theatre experience will transport audiences to New York City’s infamous Blackwell Asylum at the turn of the 20th century. Infinite Variety Productions’ Nellie and the Women of Blackwell begins performance January 30 at Wildrence in N.Y.C.’s Lower East Side.

Based on the exposé Ten Days in the Mad-House by Nellie Bly (the pen name for investigative journalist Elizabeth Cochran), the world premiere bends time to provide a space for audiences to experience the lives and words of the women committed to Blackwell.

After leading physicians into thinking she was insane in 1886, Bly spent a week and a half experiencing the harrowing treatment faced by patients at Blackwell, including spoiled food, enforced silence, dirty baths, and corporal punishment. Many of the women Bly met, she concluded, were not mentally ill at all and should be free. Following her experience, she published a long-form article exposing all of the injustices women were facing in the asylum.

This isn't the first time Bly's story has been told on stage: the musical Nellie Bly debuted on Broadway in 1944 at the Adelphi Theatre. The production featured a score by James Van Heusen, lyrics by Joseph Quillan, and a book by Johnny Burke, based on a story by Jack Emmanuel. Her story also inspired the second season of American Horror Story, starring Sarah Paulson as a similar investigative journalist.

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