A.F.R.A.I.D. (as reported by Fanny Fern) (2004/2005) (Music/Libretto)

One act version, inspired and adapted from the texts of Fanny Fern, for twelve female voices and piano (2004). World Premiere at the 2005 New York Fringe Festival. Revised and expanded to two acts (2005). Performed at the Brooklyn Repertory Opera (2005-2006).


Fanny Fern, feminist and ace reporter, takes on the members of American Females for Righteousness, Abasement, Ignorance and Docility on behalf of the downtrodden and misfits. Members of A.F.R.A.I.D are under the strict thumb of Senza Bliss, including Mrs. Hunter Fortune and her daughter, Belle, who secretly befriends Fanny and her troops. Other members include Constance Purity, Senza's main supporter, Mary Lee and Maddy Broadbrim. Both Mary and Maddy are incarcerated in Dr. Delusion's Home for Disagreeable Women, at the instigation of Senza Bliss and their husbands, for flouting the principles of True Womanhood. They are rescued bv Fanny and her supporters: seamstress Rachel Stitcher, the domestics, Bridget O'Malley and Kathleen O'Leary, and Liza Dulin, madam and escaped slave. Senza Bliss has finally met her match in Fanny Fern.

A.F.R.A.I.D. Anthem/Mary Lee Aria - Kathleen Keske/Anna Schumate/Amanda White

Performed at Brooklyn Repertory Theatre (2006)

Libretto Sample:
Senza Bliss: 

As President of our great organization,
I would like to call our meeting to order
And welcome back to our fold,
One former member, Mrs. Bilious Broadbrim. 

Mrs. Broadbrim has recently returned from
Dr. Delusion’s Home for Disagreeable Women.
Dr. Delusion, due to his overwhelming case load,
Could not be here, but says Mrs. Broadbrim
Is ready to carry on the fight For True American Womanhood,
And will be a great asset To our great organization. 


On a sad note, Mrs. Mary Lee is not faring too well

and Dr. Delusion says it may be some time
Before she can join our ranks. 

So with so much on the agenda,
Let us begin with the National A.F.R.A.I.D. anthem. 


Mrs. Broadbrim, will you lead us?

Mrs. Billious Broadbrim:


"A" is for America’s True Womanhood

Christian, Pious, Pure, Submissive and just plain Good.


Christian, Pious, Pure, Submissive, and just plain Good.

Mrs. Billious Broadbrim: 

"F" is for Females who raise their young with Family Values,

To be Blind, Deaf and Dumb to all with differing views.

"R" is for Righteousness for we are always right,

Always willing and ready to pick a fight.

 "A" is for Abasement of all traitors and all others,

Who do not listen and obey.

"I" is for Ignorance, which is ordained,

And keeps us safe within our Sacred Home,
Far from temptations that might allure.


Temptations that might allure.

Mrs. Billious Broadbrim: 

"D" is for Docility so that Man may find peace,

For if woman were to have a mind,

All marriage would cease


If woman were to have a mind, marriage would cease.
A - F- R- A - I -D.
Long may the Cult of True Womanhood abide.

Mary Lee:

You see, I left Dr. Delusion behind,

with the help of my friend
who had some lock picks
from a previous commitment.  


I ran right to his home
Which had been in my family
Since the Battle of Bunker Hill
Then encircled his neck with repentant arms.

I immediately set about mending every rip
In his coat, gloves, vest, pants, and stockings.
I hung up his cane and coat,
Trimmed his beard and whiskers,
Winked at his sherry cobblers,
Whisky punches, and mint juleps. 

I even gave him a "night key,"
So I could be oblivious to what time
In the small hours
he tumbled into the front entry. 

And last, but not least,
I invited that pretty widow,
Delilah Wilkins, to dinner,
Then ran out to do some shopping,
And stayed away till tea-time.

Why! there's nothing I won't do for my Harvey
Just like all of you, True Women.