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PRINT May 2019

performance

THESE WOMEN’S WORK

Jackie Sibblies Drury, Marys Seacole, 2019. Performance view, Claire Tow Theater, Lincoln Center, New York, February 8, 2019. From left: Duppy Mary (Karen Kandel), Miriam (Ismenia Mendes), and Mary Seacole (Quincy Tyler Bernstine). Photo: Julieta Cervantes.

THE SNEAKERS, six pairs in all, are pink. Every actress who appears in Jackie Sibblies Drury’s Marys Seacole (2019) wears them—with jeans, with scrubs, beneath petticoats. The anesthetized set, by Mariana Sanchez, is spare: A hospital bed, a reception desk, and a waiting area adorned with potted plants are surrounded on three sides by tiles that match, almost exactly, the color of the actresses’ shoes. Flattering, photogenic, and distinctively of this moment, the rosy shade nonetheless seems almost threatening, mutant, evoking the soigné efforts of corporate branding run amok.

Mournful bagpipes keen in from the speakers; soon, they are mixed with a throbbing house beat. Quincy Tyler Bernstine enters in Victorian dress and speaks directly to the audience, announcing herself as Mary Seacole and delivering a breathtaking monologue that sketches the historical figure’s remarkable life,

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