Meet Jessica Bashline & Wickedest Woman


Photos by Braddon Lee Murphy

Name: Jessica Bashline

Tell us about you. 
I work primarily as a freelance theater director and a professor of Acting at NYU, some recent and favorite credits; Loving Repeating (NYC Premiere), Life of the Party (NYU-Premiere Production of Larry O’Keefe & Nell Benjamin’s new musical), at NYU Steinhardt Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, with Strange Sun Closer Than You Think (World Premiere), The Drowning Girls (NYC Premiere). Playwriting is a new venture. In the past four years I have written two full length pieces, Wickedest Woman and Garden of Memories. I am currently working on a third full length play which jumps through time and space in NYC. I have a BFA in Acting from Boston University and an MFA from Goddard College. In addition to my work as a director, writer and teacher my research focuses on both feminist theater and progressive pedagogical approaches to teaching acting and directing; on both the university and high school levels. My most important gig for the past 12 years is raising my daughter Athena– who is a fabulous inspiration and support.
Tell us about your current project? 
Wickedest Woman tells the true story of Ann Trow Lohman, a female doctor (midwife and abortionist) in New York City throughout the 1800’s. Known as Madame Restell, when Ann began performing abortions in 1838 they were legal in the United States and when she committed suicide almost 40 years later at the end of her career, they were illegal. Madame Restell became the face of evil that the anti abortion movement used to rally people to their cause. A gender bending cast of 7 actors tells this epic story of Ann’s rise to notoriety and her struggle to keep her life intact as the scrutiny and even physical danger became ever more intense. I was inspired to write Ann’s story when I saw this article in the NY Times a few years ago– about the midwife and abortionist who outbid the Catholic Church for land adjacent to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I WAS HOOKED. When I began to do my research I learned that NOTHING had ever been written in Ann’s voice. Throughout a 40 year career there was nothing left for posterity that told her story from her point of view. So I made a promise to help find her voice.
Where are you performing your show and why is it a good fit for your production? 
We are performing at the WP Theater– and that seemed like an obvious fit!
What’s next for you? 
I head back to NYU for Spring semester teaching 4 classes which I love– and then I will be heading to Oslo to direct a play in the Spring.
What is the name of the last show you saw? 
We’ve been in rehearsal since before the holidays– it’s been a while. But I think it was India Pale Ale – Jaclyn Backhaus’ piece.
Any advice for your peers?
Be brave and take risk.

Show Information: 

WHEN: January 19 – February 2

WHERE: WP Theater at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre,2162 Broadway at 76th Street, New York, NY 10024

Follow on Twitter @wickedestwomantheplay

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