A Life in Three Dresses: The Story of Elizabeth Keckley

Coming in 2021 – An original play about the life of Elizabeth Keckley written and directed by Shav’on Smith and starringTenea Wilborn (pictured) as Elizabeth Keckley. Elizabeth Keckley was a former slave who became the dressmaker for Mary Todd Lincoln. Her autobiography is entitled Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House.

The play is set 22 years after the publication of the memoir.  We meet Keckley as she works in her small dressmaker shop, rebuilding her life after years of turmoil. Using clothing as a metaphor, Keckley guides the audience through the events that brought her to the inner circle of the Lincoln White House and chronicles the years of struggle and redemption after her estrangement from Mrs. Lincoln.  In this piece playwright and director Shav’on Smith has given us a powerful and intimate portrait of a fascinating woman. A Life in Three Dresses will premiere on Vimeo in July 2021. Tanya O’Neall portrays Elizabeth Keckley.

A Life in Three Dresses is brought to you by a generous grant from