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Written and Performed by Alice Eve Cohen

Directed by Elizabeth Margid


October 2012


Alice is happy for the first time in years. After a difficult divorce, she has a new love in her life, she is raising a beloved adopted daughter, and her career is blossoming. Then, she starts experiencing mysterious symptoms. After months of tests, X-rays, and inconclusive diagnoses, she is sent for an emergency CAT scan that revealed the truth: she is six months pregnant.


At age 44, with no prenatal care and no insurance coverage for a high-risk pregnancy, Alice is besieged by opinions from doctors and friends about what is ethical, loving, and right.


WHAT I THOUGHT I KNEW is a dark comedy, performed by one actress playing 40 roles. The play grapples with complex issues—including women’s reproductive rights and our country’s healthcare system—in a deeply personal and non-polemical way. It strikes a powerful cord with audience members, inspiring public engagement and conversation across the political spectrum.


A riveting odyssey through doubt, a broken medical system, and the complex terrain of motherhood and parenting, What I Thought I Knew is adapted from Cohen’s acclaimed memoir — one of Oprah Magazine’s “25 Best Books of Summer” and winner of Elle Lettres Grand Prix for Nonfiction.

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Praise for WHAT I THOUGHT I KNEW: The Play

“Alice Eve Cohen has taken her incredible medical odyssey and transmuted it into a powerful piece of theatre: achingly honest and funny, and truly, uniquely, inspiring.”

Mark Nelson, actor, director; faculty, Princeton University


Praise for WHAT I THOUGHT I KNEW: The Memoir


“By turns black comedy, Kafkaesque nightmare, medical mystery, and crisis of faith, What I Thought I Knew is ultimately a love story…blessed with a witty, unsentimental, utterly human voice.”

Donald Margulies, Pulitzer Prize for Drama


“A compelling and utterly unique human journey told with ruthless honesty and humor. All I kept thinking was ‘what a woman!’”

Christine Baranski, actress


“A gripping story about one of the most wrenching decisions a woman can make.”



“It is rare for a memoir about motherhood to read like a thriller, but What I Thought I Knew … is just that. The book is fascinating, brutally honest, and very funny.”

Annie Pleshette Murphy, ABC News Now


“Her darkly hilarious memoir is an unexpected bundle of joy.”

O, The Oprah Magazine

Excerpt from WHAT I THOUGHT I KNEW on 

ALICE EVE COHEN (Performer/Playwright) is a playwright, solo theatre artist, and memoirist. What I Thought I Knew (published by Viking-Penguin) won the Elle’s Lettres Grand Prix for Nonfiction, Oprah Magazine’s 25 Best Books of Summer, and Salon’s Best Books of the Year. Her solo play based on What I Thought I Knew was selected as a finalist for the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, and will be produced by the All For One Festival of Solo Theatre and The Kitchen Theatre in Ithaca, NY. She has toured her solo shows nationally and internationally in spaces both humble and grand, from main stage theatres to school cafeterias, and everything in-between. Her plays, including Thin Walls, Oklahoma Samovar, Jessica's Cervix and Hannah and the Hollow Challah have been produced at theaters, including: New York Theatre Workshop, The New Georges, 78th Street Theatre Lab, DTW, Here, EST, Women’s Project, Kitchen Theatre, Philadelphia Women’s Theatre Festival, LA Women’s Theatre Festival, Adirondack Theatre Festival, U Michigan, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, The Public Theatre; INTERNATIONAL festivals in Ireland, Scotland, Israel and Trinidad. Honored by fellowships and grants from NY State Council on the Arts, NEA, and Virginia Center for Creative Arts. She holds an MFA from the New School and a BA from Princeton University. She teaches playwriting and solo theater at The New School, and lives with her family in New York City.


ELIZABETH MARGID (Director) is delighted to be working once again with Ms. Cohen, having collaborated with her in the past on several incarnations of her solo work Thin Walls as well as on her wonderful children’s theatre piece for actors and puppets Hannah and the Hollow Challah. Ms. Margid has directed a variety of original, classic, and musical work for, among other venues, the Yale Repertory Theatre, Lincoln Center Directors’ Lab, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Hangar Theatre, Soho Rep, McCarter Theatre, NYU’s Musical Theatre Program, New Dramatists, and Fordham College at Lincoln Center, where she is the Head of the Directing Program. She is the librettist of a music-theatre adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, which received a workshop at the Orlando Shakespeare Festival and a production by the Fordham Alumni Company with generous support from the Henson Foundation. A Visit From The Footbinder, a music-theatre work she conceived and directed, was developed by BMI and Goodspeed Opera, produced by Lincoln Center at the Arclight Theatre, and won the Jerry Bock New Musical Award. Ms. Margid received an MFA in Directing from the Yale School of Drama, where she was awarded the John Badham Directing Fellowship. She is a two-time recipient of the New York State Council on the Arts’ Artistic Associate Grant.

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