Sierra Madre Playhouse
87 West Sierra Madre Boulevard, Sierra Madre
Dr. Mary Walker (1832-1919) was the first female surgeon in the U.S. Army, a suffragist, an abolitionist, a prohibitionist, endured four months in a Confederate prison and remains, to this day, the only woman out of over 3500 recipients to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, our country’s highest honor. Her ordeal as a prisoner of war had lifelong ramifications for her physical well-being, but she did not slow down. If anything, she became busier than ever. A militant believer in the equivalency of men and women, this extended to her appearance: she attired herself in “reform dress,” a skirt over trousers, which she wore for comfort and freedom of movement. From an early age, she knew she wanted to be a doctor, was the only woman in her class at medical school and would not take 'No' for an answer. She also wrote articles for magazines and two books on the inequality of the genders. She was a feminist before the term was coined. Her personal challenges included a philandering husband, sexism from dismissive men, and resentment from women who saw her as competitive or as 'a woman who didn't know her place' in a patriarchal society. Her life was full of dramatic possibilities, and it is finally the subject of a solo play, INDEPENDENCE: The True Story of Dr. Mary Walker.