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Behind the Sheet is inspired by the story of Dr. J. Marion Sims, widely known as the controversial "father of modern gynecology." Inventor of the speculum and creator of a technique to cure severe gynecological ailments, he was a champion for women's health when medical schools taught nothing about female reproductive anatomy. However, he made his discoveries by repeatedly performing experimental surgery on his female slaves, including three (Anarcha, Lucy, and Betsey) about whom no more is known than their names. Playwright Charly Evon Simpson imagines the experiences of these women who have been lost to history. In her play, Dr. George Barry purchases slaves who developed painful fistulas during labor. Simpson dramatizes their involuntary participation in Barry's surgeries as they yearn for a cure and dread the pain of each new surgical experiment. Alongside their suffering, Simpson traces the friendships, loyalties, and rivalries that develop between the women as they endure a string of failures in pursuit of the slim hope of relief.

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