217 Boxes of Dr. Anonymous

5 - 7 May 2016
Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine Street, Philadelphia


Dr. Anonymous at the American Psychiatric Association annual meeting in 1972. Photo by Kay Tobin, courtesy New York Public Library Collections.

Obie award-winning playwright Ain Gordon debuts his new play, 217 Boxes of Dr. Anonymous, the result of a two-year residency with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, supported by the Center. Profiling Dr. John Fryer, known as "Dr. Anonymous," one of the pioneers of the LGBT rights movement, Gordon's work incorporates archival material from 217 boxes of the Historical Society's Fryer collection to draw a portrait of the man behind the mask.

Through An Artist Embedded in History, Gordon has "embedded" himself in the Historical Society's daily functions, in order to reflect on the processes of how history is documented and preserved. Together, Gordon and Historical Society staff explored, via a series of public events with visiting artists and scholars, how historical events are related to contemporary social issues in the US.