45 Plays for America’s First Ladies

by Chloe Johnston, Sharon Greene, Genevra Gallo-Bayiates,
Bilal Dardai, and Andy Bayiates
New dates: May 6-23, 2021 (details)

Rolling world premiere

Directed by Jennifer Uphoff Gray

Forty-five plays. Forty-five+ First Ladies. This 100-minute journey through American history utilizes comedy, drama, music, dance and more as it surveys the lives of the women who have served (and avoided serving) as First Lady. 45 Plays… is a biographical, meta-theatrical, genre-bending look at gender, race, and everything else your history teacher never taught you about the founding (and the confounding) of America.

A brand-new project from the writers of 44 Plays for 44 Presidents, described perfectly by the Los Angeles Times:

"If Jon Stewart, the Smothers Brothers, and the League of Women Voters invaded the Hall of Presidents at Disney World, the results might resemble this play."

Sponsored by: Diane Kostecke & Nancy Ciezki, Custer Plumb Financial Services, Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren, Stafford Rosenbaum, Isthmus

Overture Center Closed Through November: 45 Plays Update
45 Plays for America’s First Ladies, will be rescheduled from its November 2020 timeslot to May 2021. We are really grateful that we were able to reserve an additional spring slot in the Playhouse to give us that option! This particular play relies so much on a live, interactive experience that we felt it best to postpone it until we can truly celebrate it with you, in person. (All our subscribers will still have the option to choose to watch a filmed version from home, as will be the case for the whole season.) And who knows – since this is a world-premiere script, maybe by the time we present it there will be a 46th play!


Forward Theater Company and ArtLitLab are accepting applications from Wisconsin artists to participate in 45 Artists for America's First Ladies, an exhibition of new work inspired by the lives of the women who have served as America's First Ladies, which will be exhibited in downtown Madison in conjunction with Forward's joint world-premiere production of 45 Plays for America's First Ladies.

Each of the 45 participants will be randomly assigned one of the First Ladies to create a piece that is 12" x 12" to be completed by March 1, 2021 (exhibition dates TBD). This project is open to artists of underrepresented genders working in any medium, including poets.

45 Artists Application Form

This project is funded in part by a grant from the Madison Arts Commission, with additional funds from the Wisconsin Arts Board.

The Playhouse at Overture Center
201 State Street, Madison, WI