About Doctor Voynich and Her Children


Doctor Rue Voynich and her apprentice Fade travel the American Heartland dispensing herbal medications. They also covertly perform abortions--long ago made illegal. When approached by a local young woman, Hannah, to perform an abortion, Fade must assist her before the sheriff can nail them for the “attempted murder of an unborn person.” This post-Roe v. Wade play about mothers and daughters is poetic, sexy, vulgar, queer, and a little too real.


The Ambulatory: a mobile dispensary of herbal medicines, parked on the side of a dusty highway in The Heartland.


The near future, God help us.

Content Warning

Doctor Voynich and Her Children discusses abortion in great detail and has sexual content. If you are concerned that these themes might cause you distress, there is a more detailed explanation available here. Please only share what you read with those who solicit it; the line between “safety” and “spoiler” varies from person to person.

Land Acknowledgement

We, The School Of Theater, acknowledge that, from the time of Ohio University’s founding in 1804, it has occupied the traditional homelands of the Shawnee people, as well as the Wahzhazhe (who are also known as the Osage), who lived in Southeast Ohio before them. As the first federally legislated public university in the United States of America, Ohio University was an integral part of the U.S.’s westward expansion and empire building. 

Dramaturgical Note

Grappling with a Prediction Being Fulfilled

When Doctor Voynich and Her Children was selected for the 2022-2023 season, it was chosen with the intention of exploring the dangers of our current political landscape and the conversation around abortion rights and healthcare. Then on June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, on the grounds of the right to abortion not being "deeply rooted in this Nation’s history or tradition." This decision from the Supreme Court forced us to change how we all approached this text. Instead of needing to scream about the horrors of what could be, we are living through the future Doctor Voynich imagines. How do we produce a show centered around the loss of abortion rights, when our nation is now stripping them from us?

Leanna Keyes's Doctor Voynich and Her Children is a play that is responding to the Trump administration as well as confrontation with an ever-growing pro-life/anti-abortion movement that seeks to deny healthcare to people with a uterus. Keyes explores a divided America where abortion “has been illegal since the days of the first woman president, Ivanka Trump.” How do we imagine a world in which the first woman president has a direct hand in the rejection of female healthcare? Is this world really that far off from our own? Doctor Voynich is set against the harsh backdrop of The Heartland, the region made up of the Midwest states like Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, North and South Dakota, Kansas, and Nebraska. The set is complete with decrepit religious billboards and crosses, a landscape eerily similar to Ohio today.

While Doctor Voynich is a play primarily about abortion, it also explores the role that the LGBTQ+ and queer community played in the women's rights and pro-choice movements. Rue is a transgender woman, playing a pivotal role in the women's rights movement, as many trans women have historically. The Heartland is a deeply religious state, with homosexuality also being outlawed. When one right is stripped, it is easy for the government to begin taking away more. A Supreme Court decision has implications beyond a single ruling, and a future where women's and LGBTQ+ rights crumble together becomes more of a reality to many people everyday.

The Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization ruling has spurred many conservatives to question other rulings, like Roe, that are based on the Due Process Clause. Rulings concerning same-sex marriage, interracial marriage, and contraceptives could now be overturned with the precedent set by the Supreme Court. Hannah's story is not fictional, neither is Rue's, nor are the stories of any of the characters we explore in this story. Keyes's work is set in a future that is unequivocally now, its every detail is recognizable. How will we save our nation from the fate Doctor Voynich and Her Children has predicted for us?

By Molly Tucker, Dramaturg

Director's Note

When I first read Doctor Voynich and Her Children, I was at a coffee shop in Columbus after purchasing The Methuen Book of Trans Plays in 2021. I thought I was going to sit down and read one play. Instead, over the course of two days I read the whole anthology. While each play is extraordinary in its own right, I was particularly pulled to Doctor Voynich. Its themes of queer kinship and unique queer intimacies, the family tugs and tensions, the humor, and its world of women and femmes helping each other navigate the “prediction” felt important to put on stage. The play felt like an urgent future vision, a warning, a dystopian possibility up ahead around a bend, or perhaps a reading of tea leaves from Rue or Fade’s cup.

There was a palpable and sobering shift this summer when Leanna’s text, her “prediction,” met another text, this one authored by an illegitimate, activist Supreme Court. This seemed to make the prediction in the play all the more possible. But while abortion is a component of the play, at its core the play is ultimately about mothers and children and the complex, difficult, and rewarding experiences those relationships bring. It is about experiencing love: both tender and new and love that is refined and worn. It is about queer kinship systems and the forming of one’s chosen family, and queer political collations as an essential method of survival. It is a stage full of characters who all think they are doing the right thing. And it also about what we must change in a present that is filled with disconnection, distraction, and division. 

This production of the play has been possible only through the incredibly fierce, talented, and brave artists that make up its cast and creative team. One of the most beautiful parts of theater is that it is impossible to make alone. The talent and tenacity I have witnessed in the rehearsal halls and in the design and its realization continues to inspire me. The fact that our collective is almost all femmes and almost all queer is even more inspiring. Our playwright, Leanna Keyes, has been particularly generous with her time, intelligence, humor, and insights; I, for one, am deeply indebted. 

Ultimately, Doctor Voynich and Her Children reminds us: what is predicted is not permanent. The play shows us the power and importance of a collective. Its characters attempt to unify when the world it is at its most divisive, working to find a solution, or at the very least the path to one. As scholar Jaclyn Pryor writes in the play’s appended note: “a prediction, after all, is both a noun that signifies the thing predicted, as well as the action of predicting the thing. It exists, that is, in both the future and present tense.” 

Which is where you come in, dear theater go-er. Thank you for being present with us. This play is for you.

By Tyler Everett Adams, director

Ohio University School of Theater

Welcome to the 2022-2023 OHIO Theater Season!

We are thrilled to welcome you to live theater on the Athens campus. Our shops, studios, and classrooms are central to the artistic work our students produce each year. Working collaboratively with all disciplines, our productions celebrate telling complex, vivid stories of what it means to human in changing times.

The School of Theater supports multiple types of storytelling on our stages, from new play development to Shakespeare reimagined. Vibrancy Theater is a student-run theater focused on “uplifting and broadcasting the Black, Indigenous and People of Color in theatre at Ohio University and beyond.” They’ll be presenting a new adaptation of Lorca’s Yerma in the spring semester. 

Tantrum Theater, OHIO’s professional theater, will feature two productions this season, bringing professional directors, stage managers, designers, technicians, and actors to work side-by-side with our students. Hotel Berry, a new play written by Jacqueline E. Lawton and commissioned by Tantrum, centers on Athens’ only Black business owners, Edward and Mattie Berry, and their world-famous hotel in 1912. In the spring, the musical Carrie will engage our students is a very different way to tell a personal story of one young woman’s search for identity.

We’ll close the spring semester with our final Seabury Quinn, Jr. Playwrights’ Festival. With the retirements of Professors Charles Smith and Erik Ramsey, we’ve made the difficult decision to sunset the MFA Playwriting degree. Please join us to celebrate the 29th annual festival and say farewell to our beloved program. 

As an audience member and supporter, you’ll engage with new students discovering their craft and advanced students writing and designing their thesis productions. Thank you for taking this journey with us and helping celebrate what theater does best: reflect our changing times.


Julius Caesar

By William Shakespeare
Directed by Shelley Delaney

Power and Ambition. Friendship and Betrayal. Anarchy and Justice. The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare is a fast and furious political tale for our time.

Virginia Hahne Theater
October 6-8 @ 8PM

October 7 @ 4pm
October 8 @ 2PM


Doctor Voynich and Her Children 

A Prediction By Leanna Keyes
Directed by Tyler Everett Adams

Doctor Rue Voynich and her apprentice Fade travel the American Heartland dispensing herbal medications. They also covertly perform abortions--long ago made illegal. When approached by a local young woman, Hannah, to perform an abortion, Fade must assist her before the sheriff can nail them for the “attempted murder of an unborn person.” This post-Roe v. Wade play about mothers and daughters is poetic, sexy, vulgar, queer, and a little too real.

Virginia Hahne Theater
October 20-22 @ 8PM
October 22 @ 2PM


what the Gods gave me

By Eryn Elyse McVay
Directed by Molly H. Donahue

Moon magic, man eaters, and matrimony; the women of Nevermoore Inn are preparing for the first night of the rest of their lives, but their carefully crafted mythos is about to catch fire. Written by OU’s own Eryn Elyse McVay, what the Gods gave me is a story about the magic of the family and the power of the individual.

Baker Backstage
November 3-5 8PM
November 5 @ 2PM


Hotel Berry

By Jacqueline E. Lawton
Directed by JaMeeka Holloway

By 1912 Athens’ only Black business owners, Edward and Mattie Berry, have established one of the finest hotels in Ohio, with visitors from all over the country. When former president and now presidential candidate Theodore Roosevelt decides to stay at the hotel, a potential moment of pride and joy unleashes scandal and political upheaval.

Forum Theater
November 17-19 @ 8PM
November 30-December 3 @ 8PM
December 3 @ 2PM



1st Year MFA Directors’ Projects

To Be Announced

Directed by Devin Ty Franklin and Caitlin Lopez

First year MFA Directing students Devin Ty Franklin and Caitlin Lopez will each present a one-act play to introduce themselves as artists to our community. We are proud and excited to produce their work. Titles and production information are forthcoming.

March 2-4 @ 8PM
March 4 @ 2PM
March 7-10 @ 8PM



Book by Lawrence D. Cohen
Lyrics by Dean Pitchford
Music by Michael Gore
Adapted from Stephen King’s Carrie
Directed and Choreographed by Victoria Sook

Adapted from Stephen King's 1974 novel Carrie, the musical focuses on an awkward teenage girl with telekinetic powers whose lonely life is dominated by an oppressive religious fanatic mother. When she is humiliated by her classmates at the high school prom, she unleashes chaos on everyone and everything in her path.

Elizabeth Baker Theater
March 9 &10, 21-25 @ 8PM
March 25th @ 12PM



By Federico García Lorca
Directed by Ally Poole

A woman in a passionless marriage, who wants nothing more than to have a child. A community that measures a woman’s worth by their ability to bear children. Yerma, for anyone who has ever desperately wanted something and found that it was just beyond their reach.

Forum Theater
April 13-15, 18-22 @ 8:00pm
April 22 @ 2PM


29th Annual Seabury Quinn, Jr. Playwrights’ Festival

Plays by Eryn Elyse McVay & Steven Strafford

The annual Ohio University Seabury Quinn, Jr. Playwrights’ Festival held each year at the end of the Spring Semester represents the culmination of the work of OU’s MFA Playwrights. Join us to celebrate and help in the creation of new work!

Baker Theater
April 13-15, 18-22


Please join us for the entire season of live in-person theater. You won’t want to miss a minute!


Merri Biechler


Director, Associate Professor of Instruction

School of Theater