Introduction

I Am My Own Wife was the first one-person show ever to win a Pulitzer Prize, which it did in 2004. The main character of Doug Wright's award-winning play is a German transvestite, who goes on to become a celebrity in his/her own right, to the point of being declared by some a national German hero. The play was published in 2004 by Faber and Faber. Wright, who is included in the more than forty characters portrayed (by one man), went to Germany in 1993 to meet and record conversations with the real Charlotte von Mahlsdorf (born Lothar Berfelde), upon whose life the play is based. The playwright struggled for several years after meeting with Charlotte, trying to conceptualize how to turn the material he had into a play. There were so many different facets of Charlotte's life, including some that were not very flattering—among them, news stories that confirmed that Charlotte had been a Nazi spy.

Wright called together two of his closest friends and brainstormed with them. Those friends were Moisés Kaufman, an award-winning director who would go on to direct the play, and Jefferson Mays, who would astonish audiences with his versatility in acting out all forty or more characters and eventually capture his own award, the Tony. I Am My Own Wife tells a story that spans Charlotte's childhood in the 1930s through the erection (1961) and deconstruction (1989–1990) of the Berlin wall, which separated Communist-controlled East Berlin from West Berlin. Through the eyes of Charlotte, the audience gains a glimpse into life in Germany as it is transformed first by the Nazi regime and then by the bombings of the Allied Forces. The play opened off Broadway in May 2003 and moved to the Lyceum Theater on Broadway on December 3, 2003. It stayed on Broadway for almost a year and enjoyed 361 performances. As of the summer of 2005, it was still on national tour.