Alyson Pou as Mother and Daughter. Photo by Paco Cao.

A SLIGHT HEADACHE is a performance/installation by Alyson Pou presented in the manner of a 19thc. Dime Museum/Sideshow. A young woman miraculously gives birth to a tiny girl from her forehead, from that moment they are inextricably joined by their hair. Over the years, the daughter grows and the hair grows, but it cannot be cut. In order to survive the Mother must exploit this freakish condition. They reside in the back rooms of a Dime Museum that displays “artifacts” from their lives and sells souvenirs. There is also a small stage where they perform a daily show. In this show, the Mother recounts the extraordinary birth, inviting viewers to try and cut their hair, the daughter tells fortunes. But tonight the daughter refuses to perform. She reveals secrets about herself and the hair that drive the women to a final, perhaps fatal, confrontation witnessed by the audience. Alyson Pou plays Mother and Daughter.

Upon entering the exhibition the audience is greeted by a barker who invites them to tour a cabinet of curiosities complete with such oddities as the world’s only bearded piranha. Souvenirs such as magic hair growth elixir and postcards are offered. Even a toy puppet theater is for sale, with which one can re-enact the duo's life and adventures. In the back of this area is a small stage with velvet curtains, footlights, sideshow banners and a piano where the Mother and Daughter perform their daily show.

The neighborhood of the South Street Seaport Museum is a provocative location for this production because it was populated with many Dime Museums during the 19th century. P.T. Barnum's American Museum, located at the corner of Broadway and Ann Street from 1841 to 1865, is the most famous among them.

Sketch by Emily Pepper for costume of "A Slight Headache"

Project Development

The script, costume, and installation of "A Slight Headache" have been developed in part during residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and an artist's research fellowship at the American Antiquarian Society, Worchester, MA. In 2006, Voice and Vision Theatre awarded Pou one of five ENVISION professional playwright residencies at Bard College. Additionally, "A Slight Headache" has been performed as a work-in-progress at Dixon Place, Bowery Poetry Project, Mulberry Street Theatre, Kraine Theatre, Women's Studio Center, Work Space Gallery in NYC and the Metropolitan Club, Washington DC. (link to alysonpou.com ASH project page)

Summary of past works with themes related to “A Slight Headache”

Since the 1970s, Alyson Pou has incorporated film video, theater, dance and sculpture in a highly individual, frequently autobiographical aesthetic. Pou’s recent production “A Slight Headache” recalls themes that have appeared in many of her past projects. (Link to Alyson Pou bio page)

Links to other sites of interest

"A Slight Headache" is made possible by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's Swing Space program, which was created with lead support from the September 11th Fund. Project space at Melville Gallery is generously donated by the South Street Seaport Museum.

Production Personnel

Alyson Pou
A Slight Headache is conceived, written, performed and produced by Alyson Pou. She is pleased to work with this outstanding team of collaborators to realize her vision.

Play Director
Jessica Bauman has been working as a director in New York and regionally for more than fifteen years. Her work has been seen at theatres such as New Georges, New York Theatre Workshop, Soho Rep, the Public, Juilliard (including the world premiere of "Fuddy Meers" by David Lindsay-Abaire), Rising Phoenix Rep and the 52nd Street Project. Regionally, she has worked at Portland Stage Company, Shakespeare Theatre of NJ, Theatre Outlet (Allentown, PA) and the O'Neill. She is currently developing "Into the Hazard (Henry 5)," a six-actor adaptation of the Shakespeare's "Henry V." She has been an Artist-in- Residence at Tribeca Performing Arts Center, a Drama League Directors Project fellow, an alumna of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, a NYTW Usual Suspect and New Georges Affiliated Artist. Jessica recently directed the world premiere of "Teachers Break" by Terrence McNally for the 24 Hour Plays on Broadway, starring Cynthia Nixon and Maura Tierney.


Costume and Wig Designer
Emily Pepper is a New York based costume designer. Recently, her designs were seen in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Atlantic Acting Co. and King of Shadows at Theatre for the New City. Other New York credits include: Tio Pepe Summer Play Festival; The Scariest 45 Bleecker; Frankenstein 37 Arts; The Suicide, Golden Boy Atlantic Acting Co.; Fizz Ohio Theatre; Evensong TBG Arts Center; Shoes Slant Theatre Project. Various Regional projects include: As You Like It Commonwealth Shakespeare; How To Succeed In Business White Plains Performing Arts Center; The American Plan, Bell Book and Candle Old Globe; The Diary of Anne Frank, Driving Miss Daisy Delaware Theatre; Villa America Williamstown Theatre Festival; Our Town Two River Theater; Blood Wedding 10 Thousand Things; Frankenstein NJPAC; workshop production of Zhivago dir. Des McAnuff, Paris Commune La Jolla Playhouse. Emily holds an MFA in design from University of California San Diego.

Production Designer
Robert Eggers
has created sets, costumes, wigs, makeup and puppets for film, television, theatre and dance, designing for Sesame Street, Comedy Central, Lincoln Center, La MaMa E.T.C. and many others. He is currently designing a new Tamar Rogoff dance piece premiering at La MaMa in December, then appearing at The Kennedy Center next year. Eggers is artistic director of Palehorse Productions, a theatre and film company based in Brooklyn. His adaptation of Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart is currently screening in the international film festival circuit and premiered at the 23rd Mar Del Plata IFF. He won a New York Innovative Theatre Award for Outstanding Costume Design for "Othello" in 2005.

Robert Eggers is a young artist with his own unique vision of the world. A multi-tasking designer and a man totally dedicated to the pursuit of his art.
-- Bob Crowley, 5-time Tony Award winning designer and director

Production Manager & Lighting Designer
Tito Fleetwood Ladd's recent Production Management credits include the national tour of The Magic Treehouse('08), international fashion trade show The Train and Platform 2 at Waterfront NY ('06/'07), international children's fashion trade show Bubble at Boylan Studios('06/'07), and most recently the premiere party for the film Notorious at Roseland Ballroom. Lighting design credits include Poppies (FringeNY), Lysistrata (MadIris), The King and I (PRHS), nightclub systems installations and design at Kiss and Fly, Lotus, Home/Guesthouse, The Underground @ 507, music festival installation and design at The Northeast Kingdom Music Festival ('07/'08), RhinoFest ('08).

Performer - Curiosity Tour & Puppetry
Gregory Cohen Frumin is a performance artist, researcher, and educator from Brooklyn, NY. In 2005 Vassar College awarded him a Maguire Fellowship that supported two years of on-site research into the history of practice-based theater studies in Italy. He focused on the work of the University of Bologna’s Arnaldo Picchi, whose passing in 2006 closed a lifetime of research, teaching, and innovative theater-making. Gregory then repatriated to NYC where he has performed with the Hungry March Band and Michael Alan’s Drawathon. He now develops performance work with independent director Marc Etlin that explores the social and theatrical dynamics of public space. Their work envisions the confrontation between an anonymous public and the inhabitants of the streets, who are exceptional and thus marginalized (e.g. homeless, psychotics, street performers/artists, political activists). He is passionate about learning and pursues opportunities in the field of performing arts education.

Shadow Puppet Design & Construction
Meghan Williams

Studio assistant to Ms. Pou (Banner painting)
Julia Pleasants

Special Project advisor and collaborator on Mother Daughter photograph
Paco Cao

Toy Puppet Theatre collaborator
Robert Warner , Master Printer and Director of Bowne & Co. Stationers