Play about Thalidomide Crisis of the 1960s to Come to South End

August 23, 2018
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Coming soon to The Boston Center for the Arts South End Campus is “[Miss],” an award-winning 2017 play about the 1960s thalidomide crisis. The show is being brought to Boston by Hardly Working Productions, a production company based in Orlando, Fla., where the show debuted with a semi-professional company at Playwrights’ Roundtable.

Written by W.L. Newkirk, the synopsis for “[Miss]” is as follows, provided by a press release from the production company: “New to the FDA, Dr. Kelsey, only admitted to graduate school because she was thought to be a man, is tasked with approving the drug. Concerned about the drug’s potential effect on pregnant women, she refuses. Merrell attacks Dr. Kelsey to force her to back down. “[Miss]” is about the challenges women face in science, medical malfeasance, pharmaceutical company greed, and the ability of one uncompromising woman to change history.”

The story is based on true events, and President/Founder of Hardly Working Productions, Deena Flowers, said that though the play takes place in the past, it’s still relevant today because of Big Pharma and the challenges women still face in the scientific world.

Though both Flowers and Newark currently reside in Orlando, Flowers grew up in Chelmsford, Mass., and Newkirk works for Harvard Medical School so both also have ties to the Boston area. Flowers said she’s excited to bring this show to Boston because “it’s a smart city, it’s a medical city; I think it’s going to be a great response.”

She also called it a “historical piece” and a “hero story” and said that it is something that could very easily happen today as well. Though she was in the cast for the Orlando production, Flowers won’t be returning to the stage for the Boston production. She said she’s been focusing on the production side of things this time around.

The cast and crew for the Boston production of “[Miss]” is all local. Flowers used non-profit organization StageSource to gather “pretty much everyone” for the show. It’s a “wonderful resource,” she said, “and everyone is also very dedicated to the story.”

Flowers also hopes that this show will put some more emphasis on straight plays, because “it’s all about the big musicals,” she said. “This is baby steps but we’re looking to change that. Straight plays are hopefully making a stronger comeback.”

“{Miss]’s” next stop could be Off-Broadway—“we haven’t ruled this out,” Flowers said.

“[Miss]” will be at Boston Center for the Arts, Plaza Black Box Theatre, South End Campus at 539 Tremont Street, from Aug. 24-Sept. 8. Ticket prices are $23.50 for general admission and $18.50 for students and seniors.

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