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Anna O. (First Draft Series)

  • 26 Jun 2018
  • 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
  • Chicago Dramatists, Theater

Anna O. by Paul Pasulka

Moderator: Dana Lynn Formby


Anna O. tells the story of Bertha Pappenheim, quite arguably the cofounder of psychoanalysis. Freud is merely a footnote in this story.

In 1880 Bertha Pappenheim, a young woman from an orthodox Jewish family cares for her father who is dying of tuberculosis. She develops an illness, initially diagnosed by Josef Breuer, Vienna’s preeminent physician, as a nervous cough. Her symptoms soon progress to include severe visual, motor, speech, and mood problems. When she refuses removal to a sanitarium for treatment with blood-letting, cold water baths, and “uterine manipulation”, she and Josef Breuer embark on a wholly unorthodox method of treatment, involving daily therapy sessions of discussion, storytelling, and free association, essentially creating the techniques of psychoanalysis.

Fraulein Pappenheim's story does not end here, however. She subsequently becomes a fierce champion of women's and children's rights throughout Europe, until she and her work come under the deadly scrutiny of the Nazi's.

Anna O. depicts the resilience of an intelligent, passionate, and sensitive woman in a protective but repressive society; the care of a similarly intelligent, passionate, and sensitive physician; a world in upheaval; a historical examination of gender roles and sexual identity in psychiatry and society at large, and the importance of imagination and creativity in overcoming trauma.


About the First Draft Series

The First Draft Series is an exclusive series of Tuesday-night play readings for and by First Draft Member playwrights. These are private, salon-style readings in which playwrights perform the roles and then discuss the plays in a format similar to that used in the Saturday Series. The discussions are moderated by a Resident Playwright or member of the artistic staff.

Become a First Draft Member today!


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