Alcott Immersion continued: Actress, writer and activist Marianne Donnelly: “Just like her.”

In a previous post I shared how total immersion in the Alcott family has me channeling Louisa and Lizzie. I compared the experience to an actress preparing for a role and I thought of two actresses I know who portray Louisa.

I emailed them both and they have both responded. I am pleased to share reflection on she has truly embodied Louisa in her life.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

To start, I very much resembled Louisa
long before I knew of her.

My childhood experiences (prolonged deep family upsets, uncertainty, numerous relocations, poverty) were survived by an active love for theatre: writing original plays, staging, costumes, programs et al, acted out by local troupe of neighbor kids that I bonded with through this activity. It kept my mind off the challenges. This makes it easy to channel Louisa.

There is a natural resonance with her outspoken nature, sarcasm, candor, wry humor, pushing the status-quo, questioning authority, living outside the box against propriety’s terms, asking to be paid my worth, unabashedly, yet, maintaining dignity, grace and warmth.

We also connect on Walden Pond


I swim the perimeter every summer; that started in 1983 when I moved to Cambridge, Mass. to attend Harvard (Grad School of Education). Five years before I knew about Louisa, I was deeply connected to a body of water she loved. When I was asked many years ago to select a woman to portray for the Boston Women’s Trail project, I chose Louisa because she was first on an alphabetical list. When I read about her it was the Walden-connection that fit at first. From there the similarities grew.

Army service

I have served in the Army as a vocalist and overseas intelligence-signal-corp-specialist. She was a civil war nurse.

Social activism

alcottparadeI have fought for many causes–tough ones–anti-genetically modified foods, fair housing, anti-Iraq War, by organizing petitions, sit-ins, protests, marches, letter writing campaigns and an annual anti-GMO event that still happens in Boston. Louisa did much the same for different causes.

Personality traits

  • I am fiercely outspoken. Terrifyingly candid. Scary if needed. So was she.
  • I can be brisk (even hurly-burly). So was she.
  • I talk fast, move fast and have enormous energy. So did she.
  • I challenge people on tough topics and don’t care if they “like” me. Same as her.
  • I make a point of being charitable and kind each day. So did she.


I write for a newspaper doing theatre reviews; I have always written poetry, short plays for myself and scripts for my characters (including the script for my original “Louisa May Alcott: Beyond Little Women”). She did the same.

And, I have no enthusiasm for senseless female enhancements: no makeup, no shaving, no perfume, no bras (I use bathing suits so my back is free), no soft-spoken-eyes-averted submission, no accepting less pay, no more doing everyone else’s work to “be nice,” asking to be “paid more!”

Wanting to be anything-but nurse or schoolmarm, working at surviving being an independent actress, and no withholding my views …

Just like her.

My thanks to Marianne for sharing how she embodies Louisa May Alcott. You can see her in action on July 6 in New Hampshire:

Sunday, July 6, start time 11 am
2013 Monadnock Summer Lyceum
25 Main Street, Peterborough, NH

Marianne Donnelly will perform as Louisa May Alcott for the Monadnock Lyceum.

Click here for more information on Marianne Donnelly.
Click here for information on the Lyceum

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