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Documentary Theatrics: I Am My Own Wife's Archival Deceptions

Wednesday, October 25, 2017 at 4:30pm to 5:30pm

Cornell Library Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, 2B Kroch Library

Doug Wright’s 2004 Pulitzer and Tony-winning I Am My Own Wife features one actor in a simple black dress embodying more than 30 characters, principally “Charlotte,” Berlin’s well-known transvestite, raconteur, and museum founder, and “Doug,” the playwright/researcher himself. The play is based on Wright’s personal encounter with Charlotte von Mahlsdorf (1927-2002), and it bears the hallmarks of documentary theatre: insider eyewitness reporting, a basis on actual people and events, reliance on oral history, and citation and display of evidence. Instead, focusing on Charlotte von Mahlsdorf’s dramatized deficits of candor, as Wright does, we swivel the spotlight to scrutinize Wright’s dramatized archive and its correlated tangible archive. What becomes of documentary integrity when research and dramatic license collide?

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Event Type

Presentation, Lecture


Kroch Library, Cornell University Library, Mann Library


history, Cornell University Library, Mann Library, CUL, rare and manuscript collections, open access, digital archives, transgender, LGBTQ history, tranvestite



Caring Community
Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Brenda J. Marston

Contact Phone



Polly Thistlethwaite

Speaker Affiliation

Chief Librarian, CUNY Graduate Center

Disability Access Information

Wheelchair accessible,

Open To


Recent Activity

Brenda Marston

Brenda Marston 10/17/2017

The day before this, on Tuesday, October 24, Polly Thistlethwaite will give a lecture on Open Access at 160 Mann Library. Details here: