Typhoid Mary, Patient Zero… and the M Factor Premieres

What do an Irish immigrant cook in the early 1900s, a French-Canadian flight attendant in the 1980s, and a mysterious 21st century outbreak striking foreign students and mosque attendees have in common?

Find out in Typhoid Mary, Patient Zero… and the M Factor, the latest play from TAPIT/new works Ensemble Theater, opening Thursday, October 5, at 7:30 pm and running for nine performances in October at the fully accessible TAPIT/new works performance space, 1957 Winnebago Street, at Schenk’s Corners.

The play, a medical thriller, is set at the intersection of public health and personal freedom. It juxtaposes the true stories of Mary Mallon, better known as “Typhoid Mary,” and Gaétan Dugas, the so-called “Patient Zero” of the AIDS epidemic, with a fictitious and frightening outbreak set in the present day. As contemporary characters struggle to contain a mysterious new disease, they must confront personal and political issues similar to those of the past – not to mention their own prejudices.

Written by Danielle Dresden, the play is directed by Coleman and performed by Donavon Armbruster, Robert Helfinstine, Liz Light, Joshua Paffel, Donna Peckett, and Dresden. Costumer Rebecca Stanley, graphic artist and set designer Michael Duffy, and stage manager Steppe round out the production crew.

Performances are scheduled for Thursday, October 5, at 7:30 PM; Fridays, October 6, 13, and 20 at 7:30 PM; and Saturdays, October 7, 14, and 21 at 7:30 PM. Matinees are scheduled for two Saturdays, October 14 and 21, at 2:30 pm. Tickets are available at brownpapertickets.com.

At a time when germ theory was cutting-edge science, Mary Mallon found herself targeted, arrested, and put in isolation. She was told she’d made people sick, but she couldn’t see how. Decades later, a French-Canadian flight attendant is vilified and blamed for spreading AIDS throughout the United States, even though genetic tests eventually prove he couldn’t have.

Were these people treated fairly? Could something similar happen today? How do social values shape responses to public health issues? These are the questions Typhoid Mary, Patient Zero… and the M Factor explores.

Dr. Judith Leavitt, a leading authority on Mary Mallon and an expert on medical history and public health, served as a consultant to the project. Outreach events are always part of new play development at TAPIT/new works, and Professor. Leavitt, producer will present and participate in public workshops and discussions at UW-Madison and at Edgewood College. She will also facilitate post-performance discussions at selected public performances of the play at TAPIT/new works Theater.

TAPIT/new works Ensemble Theater, a professional multi-disciplinary performing arts organization, was founded in 1985 by producing artistic directors Donna Peckett and Danielle Dresden. Driven by the twin engines of artistic innovation and community connection, the Company has developed, produced, and performed 38 new plays, 15 tap and jazz music performances and 11 works for young audiences, performing throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Please contact TAPIT at 608.244.2938, or info@tapitnewworks.org for more information.

Typhoid Mary, Patient Zero… and the M Factor is made possible, in part, by support from The Madison Arts Commission, with funds from the Wisconsin Arts Board; Wisconsin Humanities Council, with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities; Dane Arts with additional funds from the Endres Mfg. Company Foundation, Evjue Foundation, Inc., the charitable arm of the The Capital Times, the W. Jerome Frautschi Foundation, and the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation; the Neil Allen Peckett Memorial Fund of TAPIT/new works.

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