The Only Woman in the Room

  • July 06, 2022

Storytree Theatre presents an original play about Frances Perkins


 Damariscotta, Maine - July 5, 2022

 The Only Woman in the Roompremieres this summer at Lincoln Theater

 Storytree Theatre premieres The Only Woman in the Room July 15 - 17 at Lincoln Theater in downtown Damariscotta. Written by newcomer, Teralyn Reiter, the play shares the work and life of Newcastle, Maine resident, Frances Perkins, who became the first female cabinet member in United States history when she accepted the role of Secretary of Labor in Franklin Delano Roosevelt's administration. She served from 1933-1945 and worked on the administration’s most popular policies that became the bedrock of modern American society including the Civilian Conservation Corps, Fair Labor Standards Act, and the Social Security Act. 

 Teralyn learned about the work of Frances Perkins after reading about her in one of Heather Cox Richardson’s Letters from an American. She was in awe of Miss Perkins, and felt compelled to write and produce a community-driven play about her life and work. "I just thought to myself, 'how is this the first time I'm hearing of her?' Every single American still benefits from her work. She helped shape the world of the American worker. People need to know her", said Mrs. Reiter. To bring the story to the stage, Mrs. Reiter leaned into her extensive theater background to write, produce, and direct the play. 

 The play explores the life of the American worker in the time of Frances Perkins, while weaving in the experiences from the workers of today. The two timelines illustrate the effects of the policies at the time they were implemented and how they have shifted in the last 72 years. As Mrs. Reiter puts it,  "Laws are never written in stone in this country. That's the genius of the Constitution. Our founders knew the future was not set, and they allowed for change and new ideas." Miss Perkins leaned on this malleability, knowing that sometimes the way forward was with compromise while believing that once people saw the positive change new policy could bring to the American people, they would expand on it. This belief was one of the reasons Miss Perkins allowed for the Social Security Act of 1935 to go forward without Universal Healthcare, an issue she fought to get written into law but was ultimately written out of the bill.

 Despite her service to our country being over 75 years ago and these life changing policies written into law, Miss Perkins' work still affects us today and continues to be under attack from certain political circles. Mrs. Reiter said, “It’s important for us to remember and understand the context of our past, so we can make more informed decisions in our present. Plays like this one, help us to not only remember that historical context but to understand what these laws did and continue to do for us today. We can’t just assume things will always be as they were. We need to be vigilant and engaged, that’s how we continue a democracy that serves all the people.”

 In order to find the voice of Miss Perkins and write a meaningful fact-based play, Mrs. Reiter read The Woman Behind the New Deal by Kirstin Downey, as well as The Roosevelt I Knew written by Frances Perkins. She incorporated a lot of direct quotes from these books. She also worked closely with the Frances Perkins Center throughout the writing process to ensure the play was accurate and true to Frances Perkins’ legacy. Sarah Peskin, the Board Chair said, “The Frances Perkins Center is pleased to partner with Storytree Theater and playwright Teralyn Reiter to present this well-researched play that brings to life the character and legacy of our namesake - Frances Perkins - a great American with deep roots in Newcastle, Maine."

 The play is made possible with a grant from the Maine Arts Commission. The Only Woman in the Room will run July 15 – 17 at Lincoln Theater in downtown Damariscotta. Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling the Lincoln Theater Box Office at 207-563-3424.


Contact: Teralyn Reiter, Director and Founder, Storytree Theatre



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Teralyn Reiter

36 Chapman Street
Damariscotta   ME  04543