Tapit New Works production: Typhoid Mary
Typhoid Mary

What do an Irish immigrant cook in the early 1900s, a French-Canadian flight attendant in the 1980s, and a mysterious 21stcentury outbreak striking foreign students and mosque attendees have in common?

Find out in Typhoid Mary, Patient Zero… and the M Factor, a medical thriller, set at the intersection of public health and personal freedom. This play juxtaposes the true stories of Mary Mallon, better known as “Typhoid Mary,” and Gaétan Dugas, the so-called “Patient Zero” of the AIDS epidemic, with a fictitious and frightening outbreak set in the present day. As contemporary characters struggle to contain a mysterious new disease, they must confront personal and political issues similar to those of the past – not to mention their own prejudices.

At a time when germ theory was cutting-edge science, Mary Mallon found herself targeted, arrested, and put in isolation. She was told she’d made people sick, but she couldn’t see how. Decades later, a French-Canadian flight attendant is vilified and blamed for spreading AIDS throughout the United States, even though genetic tests eventually prove he couldn’t have.

Were these people treated fairly? Could something similar happen today? How do social values shape responses to public health issues? These are the questions Typhoid Mary, Patient Zero… and the M Factor explores.

Dr. Judith Leavitt, a leading authority on Mary Mallon and an expert on medical history and public health, served as a consultant to the project. The play, written by Danielle Dresden, calls for a cast of six – three men and three women, with doubling – and a unit set. TAPIT/new works’ producing artistic directors, Donna Peckett and Dresden perform in this production.