WHAT I THOUGHT I KNEW, a solo play
A solo play with 40 characters, based on Cohen's memoir - Oprah magazine 25 Best Books of Summer; Elle magazine's Grand Prize for Nonfiction, Salon.com Year's Best Books - the play is a riveting odyssey through doubt, a broken medical system, and the complexities of motherhood.
ARTIE AWARD NOMINEE/BUFFALO 2020: Outstanding Actress in a Play
BROADWAY WORLD AWARD/MINNEAPOLIS nominee:
BEST PLAY, BEST ACTRESS, BEST DIRECTOR
JANE CHAMBERS PLAYWRITING AWARD: Honorable Mention
O'NEILL NATIONAL PLAYWRIGHTS CONFERENCE: Finalist
SYNOPSIS: Alice was happy for the first time in years. After a difficult divorce, she had a new love in her life, she was raising a beloved adopted daughter, and her career was blossoming. Then, she started experiencing mysterious symptoms. After months of tests, X-rays, and inconclusive diagnoses, Alice was sent for an emergency CAT scan that revealed the truth: she was six months pregnant. At age 44, with no prenatal care and no insurance coverage for a high-risk pregnancy, Alice was besieged by opinions from doctors and friends about what was ethical, what was loving, what was right.
A dark comedy performed by one actress playing 40 roles, the play grapples with complex issues—including women’s reproductive rights and our country’s healthcare system—in a deeply personal way, inspiring public engagement and conversation across the political spectrum.
Feb 6-Mar 1, 2020: Jewish Repertory Theatre of Buffalo NY, 3-week run, mainstage production.
Directed by Saul Elkin
Performed by Josie DiVincenzo
Feb 2021, AN UNEXPECTED LIFE (60 min version of What I Thought I Knew) will be produced on Jewish Repertory Theatre of Western NY's 18th season. Mainstage production, live and filmed production.
August, 2018: Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company, 3-week run, main-stage season.
Performed by: Kim Kivens
Director: Jennie Ward
(Nominated for regional Broadway World Awards for: Best Play, Best Actress in a Play, Best director)
June, 2013: The Kitchen Theatre in Ithaca, NY, 3-week run, main-stage season.
(Nominated for regional Broadway World Awards for: Best Actress in a Play & Best Lighting Design)
Performed by: Alice Eve Cohen
Director: Elizabeth Margid, with additional direction by Rachel Lampert
Sound Design: Eric Nightengale
Lighting Design: Tyler M. Perry
March, 2013: Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College, Branchburg, NJ
May, 2013: The Hudson Opera House, Hudson, NY
September, 2012: All For One Theatre Festival, Cherry Lane Theater, NYC
The show began its development through workshops, fellowships and residencies at:
University of Michigan
The Envision Retreat—Voice & Vision Theatre
Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, writing residency
Finalist, O’Neill National Playwrights Conference
All for One Theatre Festival
"While filled with Cohen’s characteristic warmth and humor, What I Thought I Knew indicts the health care system."—Jewish Week
“Joyful, heart-breaking, moving”—Cherry and Spoon, Minneapolis
“Throws the insanity of the American health care system into sharp relief…sobering and thought-provoking.”
—City Pages, Minneapolis/St. Paul
"Profound… [a] darkly comedic reframing of iconic feminist questions around choice, parenting, and women's health… Challenging, beautiful, and defiantly funny "—Jane Chambers Award, Honorable Mention for new feminist plays
“A sold-out hit at the All For One Theatre Festival... A constant, joyous amazement.”—Executive Director, All For One Theatre Festival
JANE CHAMBERS AWARD Honorable Mention / Judges' comments:
"Judges were struck with your solo play's creative, darkly comedic and critical reframing of iconic feminist and very human questions around choice, parenting, and women's health for the stage. With wit, a compelling personal odyssey, and a panorama of vivid figures and loaded scenarios in America's landscape of reproductive culture, you hook audiences, offering new perspectives and emotional (as well as cultural) lessons on life. Thank you for sharing this adaptation of your book, and for crafting a highly-theatrical narrative that is at once highly personal and social, moving and profound. As a reflection on Life (and Death) What I Thought I Knew is challenging, beautiful, and defiantly funny."
• "A masterpiece!"—Robert Montgomery, playwright, faculty, The New School
• “A continual revelation… a harrowing, moving, and rewarding ride.”—Matthew Maguire, playwright; Theatre Program director, Fordham University
• "Raucous, sad, moving and exuberantly funny." Caroline Leavitt, NYT bestselling author, book critic Boston Globe, People
• "While filled with Cohen’s characteristic warmth and humor, What I Thought I Knew indicts the health care system..."—Jewish Week
“Once again you capture me with a story that grabs my heart and makes me gasp. I have been thinking about it non-stop. Thrilled this piece will have a home for a few weeks in Ithaca. ”
—Rachel Lampert, Artistic Director, The Kitchen Theatre, Ithaca, NY
“While filled with Cohen’s characteristic warmth and humor, What I Thought I Knew indicts the health care system for first misdiagnosing Cohen’s condition and then refusing to accept the liability of treating her when her pregnancy was finally revealed through an emergency CAT scan on erev Rosh HaShanah.”
—Ted Merwin, Jewish Week
“Thank you for your extraordinary story. The journey was totally compelling and riveting. I was amazed at how you inhabited each character so specifically and distinctly. And what delicious humor you have! I was laughing, crying, and outraged at our medical system. I was so moved by your humanity and all the questions, emotions, struggles, elations, colors, revelations, arrivals that you lived through during your journey.”
—Dawn Saito, performance artist/actress, writer