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Laura Esterman as Katherine Luder in _21

photo: Paula Court

Ercel imagines mask CAP UCLA.jpg

photo: CAP UCLA

Gross 217 Boxes CAP UCLA.jpg

Written & directed by Ain Gordon


1972: Dr. John Fryer dons an oversize tuxedo and rubber joke shop mask to become Dr. Henry Anonymous and confront the American Psychiatric Association with these words: “I am a homosexual, I am a psychiatrist.” This new play combs Fryer’s 217-box archive, unearthing three figures from his life; asking each to draw a portrait of the man behind the mask.



Alfred A. Gross: as Executive Secretary at the George W. Henry Foundation in N.Y.C. Gross assisted homosexual men “in trouble with the law.” Fryer joined these efforts in the years right before his Dr. Anonymous speech.

Katherine M. Luder: Fryer’s personal secretary for 24 years, coming to his employ in 1973, one year after the Dr. Anonymous speech, and working right up to her death at the age of ninety-one.


Ercel Ray Fryer: Dr Fryer’s father, born in Kentucky in 1901, he died in 1970 without every openly acknowledging his son’s sexuality.

"'217 Boxes’ is an important work of documentary theater about a man who is a footnote to gay history, as well as a powerfully moving abstract of the decades of suffering and change that his life and attachments encompassed." – The New York Times

“....a series of beautifully shaped 25-minute monologues, avatars of gayness in America during the whole of the 20th century.” –The New York Times

Featuring: Laura Esterman, Derek Lucci, Ken Marks

Lighting Design: Nick Ryckert

Producer: Alyce Dissette


A Pick Up Performance Co. Production


  • May 5-7, 2016, Painted Bride Arts Center, Philadelphia, PA

  • May 3-11, 2018, Baryshnikov Arts Center, New York City, NY

  • May 16-17, 2019, Transylvania University, Lexington, KY

  • October 11-12, 2019, UCLA Center for the Art of Performance, Los Angeles, CA

Funded by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Gordon spent two years as an AN ARTIST EMBEDDED at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania combing Dr. Fryer’s 217-box archive culminating in the premiere of 217 Boxes Of Dr. Henry Anonymous.

photo: CAP UCLA

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