Lie After Lie After Lie: a True Story

Play title:  Lie After Lie After Lie: a True Story

Author (s):  Stephen Dierkes

Representation: For more information please email playwright Stephen Dierkes at

Funder: Ensemble Studio Theatre L.A.

Genre: Tragicomedy 

Primary Discipline: Medicine 

Secondary Discipline: Psychology  

Scientist (s):

Doctor Ignaz Semmelweis – Hungarian physician most remembered for his work on antiseptic procedures, specifically his study of washing hands before surgical procedures.  

Character Breakdown: Doubling isn’t necessary, Characters can be played by individual actors

Semmelweis – Male, Middle age

Woman — 20 years younger than Semmelweis

(Maria, Hanna)

Man 1 — Roughly same age as Semmelweis

(Dr. Ferdinand Hebra, Dr. Carl Braun)

Man 2 — 60’s or older

(Hans, Dr. Johann Klein)

(Character breakdown provided by Playtext)

Setting: Vienna, Austria 

Time Period: 1865 to 1846 (reverse order)

Synopsis of Play: In the late 1840s, before the age of Pasteur and Lister and the knowledge of sepsis, a Hungarian obstetrician named Ignaz Semmelweis found that the simple expedient of hand-washing could help physicians reduce childbed fever by up to 90 percent. His discovery was rejected by his superiors, indeed by the whole western world — and he died insane.

Lie After Lie After Lie interprets this famous chapter in medical history for the age of Trump — a time when scientific, demonstrable facts (e.g., global warming) are shunted aside for the sake of tradition, prejudice and Realpolitik, and women’s health is an afterthought. The play’s tone is meant to lurch from style to style: from melodrama to black comedy, absurdism, gyno-horror, theatre of cruelty, and tragedy — to keep the audience as off-balance and discombobulated as the main character.

Which is to say that the play’s subject is not germ theory or even Semmelweis himself. Lie After Lie is about science denial, callousness to health (especially that of women) and the madness of living in a post-truth world. The play is told in reverse format to minimize its biopic aspects and sharpen its focus on the theme: lying.

(Synopsis provided by Playwright)

First Performance Date: Dec. 1st, 2017

Performance History: This play was given a staged reading by Ensemble Studio Theatre/Los Angeles (late 2017) and another staged reading in Caltech’s Festival of Science -Driven Plays (May 2018). It has never been produced.

(Performance History provided by Playwright)


Entered by: Anna Galanides

Photo/Visual Research with citations

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