A Stage Play Adaptation by Heather Cook

The Yellow Wallpaper

Full-Length Play, Drama, 4 women, 2 men

Plot Synopsis:  A successful 19th-century writer suffers from post-partum depression after her first child and is sent to a country house to recuperate from a nervous condition.  She develops an unhealthy relationship with the decorative wallpaper of her “rest cure” room.

The Yellow Wallpaper is a 6,000-word short story by the American writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, first published in January 1892 in The New England Magazine. It is regarded as an important early work of American feminist literature, illustrating attitudes in the 19th century toward women’s physical and mental health.

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Productions and Readings

An adaptation of the original short story was scripted and directed by Heather Cook as part of the 2003 season at Theater Schmeater in Seattle, Washington.  The production starred Mary Jane Gibson as Charlotte (pictured), Stephen Loch as John, Annie Lareau as Jennie, Lisa Viertel as Mary, Erin Knight as Lucy, and Jim Catechi as Dr. Weir Mitchell.  This adaptation won the 2003 Seattle Times “Best of the Fringe” award. Artistic Director, Rob West.

The adaptation also was produced in 2005 at Tarrant County College by Doctor Judith Gallagher, directed by Melinda Benton-Muller with Kami Rogers as Charlotte.

In May 2010, Heather Newman, Melinda Benton-Muller, and Doctor Judith Gallagher spoke on a panel about this adaptation at the – American Literature Association with ALA and Charlotte Perkins Gilman Society members.  Kami Rogers moderated the panel.

In October 2015, the play was produced by Converse College in South Carolina School of the Arts.

Theater Schmeater Production Reviews:

The adaptation continues to be produced at many colleges, universities, and regional theatres in their seasons and during Women’s History Month. It has also been the center of many graduate students' papers and final projects in set design, directing, and dramaturgy.


The Charlotte Perkins Gilman Society

Women and Economics – A Study of the Economic Relation Between Men and Women as a Factor in Social Evolution is a book written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and published in 1898. It is considered by many to be her single greatest work, and as with much of Gilman’s writing, the book touched a few dominant themes: the transformation of marriage, the family, and the home, with her central argument: “the economic independence and specialization of women as essential to the improvement of marriage, motherhood, domestic industry, and racial improvement.”

Note: This book was a key piece in writing the adaptation, a few of the monologues were used directly for the character of Charlotte.