The Gage and Mr. Comstock
A Ten-Minute Monologue
Madame Restell's Suicide
- 2019, Queen Bee Productions, Akron, OH.
- 2015, University of North Dakota Women’s Studies, Grand Forks, ND.
- 2009, Published in Black Eye and Other Short Plays, Gage Press.
- “Voices of Vashon,” WQHK904, Vashon Island, WA.
- Venus Theatre, (staged reading) Washington, DC.
- Winner, Got Theatre? Project, Syracuse, NY.
Her book, an impeccably-researched, comprehensive indictment of the historical misogyny of the christian church, is intended to start a revolution, and Gage is distressed by the polite responses from those who already share her views. In an attempt to stir controversy, she has sent a copy to a conservative member of the local school board, donating the book to the school library. She expresses her frustration that she has received no response.
After a mini-lecture on the custom of “throwing down the gage,” she vents her frustration about the fact that challenges by women are so seldom taken seriously. Gage’s exhaustion changes to exhilaration when she comes across a letter from Anthony Comstock, the notorious author of the national “Comstock Laws” that banned birth control and instituted strict censorship in arts and literature. Apparently, the school board member sent the book to him, and he has written to Gage threatening to press criminal charges against anyone who attempts to place the book in the hands of children.
Gage is delighted. She exposes the hypocrisy of Mr. Comstock and tells the appalling story of his persecution of Ann Lohman, a woman who was incarcerated for having performed abortions, and whom he pursued after her release, entrapping her in the sale of contraceptives to undercover agents. Lohman, unable to face the humiliation and trauma of a second incarceration slit her own throat the morning she was to appear in court for the second trial. Gage scores Comstock for his callous indifference to Lohman’s death, a direct result of his persecution of her.
Gage is delighted that Mr. Comstock has taken up her challenge and she gleefully anticipates the prospect of escalating the controversy surrounding her book, noting that, if all goes as she plans, Woman, Church and State should make it onto the Pope’s list of banned books.