HICK: A Love Story explores the historical romance and intimate friendship between Lorena Hickok (Hick) and Eleanor Roosevelt.
To reconstruct the truth of the relationship between the First Lady and a media icon, pioneer lesbian playwright Terry Baum traveled to Hyde Park, NY to review original documents and letters, in the “Lorena Hickok” files at the FDR Library. Baum also interviewed people who knew Hick.
Discovered in 1978, 2336 letters written from Roosevelt to Hick revealed a passionate lesbian relationship and an eternal friendship between the First Lady and the most famous female journalist of that period, Lorena Hickok. Hick was the first woman to have a byline on the front page of the NY Times and greatly influenced the presidential office.
Hick’s influence could be seen in some of the unique and radical things Roosevelt did as a first lady, such as holding press conferences exclusively for female reporters and writing a syndicated column six days a week.
After seeing Pat Bond’s play about Hick, Baum became inspired to tell her own interpretation of one of this tantalizing tale. As Bond imagined the courtship of Roosevelt and Hick on stage, Baum wanted to hear more. “I felt called,” she said, also sensing the audience wanted more. I felt “called to write it and called to act it,” she said.
Soon Baum created HICK: A Love Story with the help of Pat Bond. They used Hick’s writing and Roosevelt’s passionate letters to transform the audience to a mindset of that period, a time of upheaval in the U.S. In this one-woman play, Baum tackles a rollercoaster of emotions and transitions in the challenging role of Lorena Hickok.
The two women fell in love during FDR’s campaign trail. “It’s an incredible story,” said Baum. Her viewpoint allows audiences a chance to Roosevelt in a broader, more passionate light. “In my opinion, she was the greatest American woman of the 20th century,” said Baum. The playwright received permission from the Roosevelt estate to use the letters, which are not in the public domain, for a year of non-profit use.
The play recently completed a run at the New York International Fringe Festival where it was a top revenue producer for the venue, earning a “Fringe Fave” title and selectively chosen to be chosen to be part of “The Fringe Encore Series.” Baum will be performing in HICK: A LOVE STORY at the diverse and experimental Baltimore Theatre Project from February 22 through March 6. Get your tickets online.