The WOW Cafe presents Rose Toibin, a new play by Theresa Diamond that juxtaposes the lives of two Irish immigrant maids in 1848 with two modern day academics. Directed by Alison Tallis.
The play centers on two Irish immigrant women who kept house for New York's upper class while the Famine ravaged Ireland in 1848. Rose works as a servant in the Ryerson mansion on Washington Square. Death stalks her in the form of letters she receives from her family back in Ireland as they struggle to flee the scourge of the Famine. A new maid, Sally, arrives excited about the promise of the New World but soon learns of the harsh reality of immigrant life. Their lives are profoundly affected by a chance encounter with a celebrated suffragist stumping for the first women's rights convention.
Comic relief is provided in the present day as two female academics meet while tracing the Irish maids' story through diaries and letters. Charlotte is a professor awaiting a tenure decision who had stumbled upon Rose and Sally's letters while researching her dissertation tens years earlier. Simone, an out punk dyke queer theorist, aggressively awakens Charlotte to the potential in the scholarship she abandoned years before. Together, their study reveals that the two 19th century women may have formed an intimate bond, defying social and sexual stereotypes.