How is it that we come to know someone? Particularly someone we’ve never met in person, or only interacted with occasionally and in a certain setting. Think of that strange feeling you may have had as a child when you saw one of your teachers out in the world doing normal un-teacherly things. In this play I’m asking questions about how we come to know a person as something more than the role they play in our lives or the definition we have in our heads for them.
* In it’s first public reading, this play was titled Useless. Since then, the play has been titled Unknown.
* To learn about the documentary film project associated with this play, please visit
The Unknown Play Project website.
Characters: 7 female (6 actors with doubling)
Running Time: 100 minutes
Summary: Nobody knows Sydney Anders. Nobody living anyway. Well, maybe one or two people, but they don’t know her well at all. So nobody paid much attention when the boxes came in to the Archives—seven to be exact, six full of personal journals, and one full of cassette tapes.
But Sophie was there when the boxes came in. Sophie just turned 30 a couple of months ago and has been volunteering at the Archives for almost two years now. And Thea was also there. Thea is 15 and has been spending a lot of time at the Archives lately.
Unknown follows Thea and Sophie, and a handful of characters who interact with them, as they flip through the pages of Sydney’s life, discovering her story as they go about their business in a very idiosyncratic archive related to the lives of lesbians.
Inspired by the 40-year-old Lesbian Herstory Archives in Brooklyn, NY, Unknown, offers a portrait of a small community of lesbians that spans four generations, and it asks how we come to know a person as something more than the role they play in our lives or the labels society applies to them.
• This project was begun while I was in residence at the Millay Colony.
When & Where
Availability: Available for production and readings.
• National Reading Tour, August 2014 as part of The Unknown Play Project
• Reading, Lesbian Herstory Archives, Brooklyn, NY, 11 May 2012
• Reading, WOW Cafe Theater, New York, NY, 30 May 2014
• Published in full with an introduction by Private Commission in 2014, you can purchase copies online from a variety of retailers.
• (3-page excerpt) EDNA: A Journal of the Millay Colony of the Arts, 2013 (Vol 4), p. 21-24. (Available for free online.)