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Real Pirates

Mary Read

Mary ReadOne of the most famous female pirates convicted of piracy during the early 18th century, Mary Read spent most of her life pretending to be a man. Born in England to the widow of a sea captain, her exact birthdate unknown, Mary's female identity was hidden by her mother from the very beginning.

Mary had a brother who died around the same time she was born and her mother, in order to secure a greater inheritance from her mother-in-law (in those days boys were worth more money than girls), presented her new baby as a boy. This lie provided Mary's mother with a crown a week with which to support her family. Without this assistance, they would have been unable to survive. Thus, Mary was disguised as a boy for the duration of her childhood.

When she was a bit older, Mary became a footboy to a French lady and then later enlisted in the military to become a soldier in the horse regiment. During her military service, she fell in love with a fellow soldier, and she decided to uncover her true identity to her newfound love. The soldier shared the same feelings for Mary, and the two left the regiment and were married. For the first time in Mary Read's recorded history, she walked through life as a woman.

The two newlyweds opened an inn they called The Three Horseshoes, but their life together ended abruptly when Mary's husband died shortly after the inn's opening. Mary then decided to resume life disguised as a man. Donning masculine attire once again, she re-enlisted in the military in Holland during a time of peace. She boarded a ship en route to the West Indies that was overtaken by pirates. She was pardoned by the king and went on to privateer. Her privateering days ended when she joined the crew of Captain John 'Calico Jack' Rackham in mutiny. On board, the entire crew believed Mary to be a man. It was to fellow pirate Anne Bonny that she revealed her true identity, for Anne, too, was living and working on the ship disguised as a man.

On board Rackham's ship, Mary fell in love again. As legend has it, her lover was to have a duel with another pirate on the ship, and Mary, in order to save her lover's life, challenged the same pirate to a separate duel earlier in the day. Mary won the duel and killed the rival pirate only two hours before his scheduled duel with her lover.

Eventually, Rackham's ship was overtaken and Mary was arrested and sentenced to be hanged. In order to postpone her execution date, she declared she was pregnant and was sent to prison, where she died of fever in 1721.

It has been said that Mary Read was never fond of being a pirate, but she fought better and more bravely than any man on the ship.

Portrayed by:

Mary Fox

Mary FoxMary Fox was last involved with the Science Museum of Minnesota as a presenter for The Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition and is thrilled to be back playing Mary Read in Real Pirates. Some recent acting credits around the Twin Cities include: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Loggaine SchwatrzandGrubinerre) with Theater Latte Da, Street Scene (Olga Olsen) with Girl Friday Productions and Our Town (Emily) with Yellowtree Theatre. She has a BFA in Theater from the University of Minnesota - Duluth.

Leigha Horton

Leigha HortonLeigha Horton's theater credits include Ms. Ina Shaw in Tale of a West Texas Marsupial Girl (Children's Theatre Company), Nurse Evelyn Marsden in Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition (Science Museum of Minnesota), Sarah in See You Next Tuesday (Walking Shadow), Ralphie's mom in A Christmas Story (St. Croix Festival Theatre), Feste in Twelfth Night (TRP), and nearly everything in the Ministry of Cultural Warfare's producing history. Leigha can be heard regularly on national TV and radio for Target, Cadillac, Nexxus, Caribou Coffee, Yoplait Yogurt, Progresso Soup, Marketplace Events, and Kona Grill, among others. For musings on Leigha's performance shenanigans, visit The Greenroom at

Melanie Wehrmacher

Melanie WehrmacherMelanie Wehrmacher's Twin Cities credits include Hennepin Theatre Trust (Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women), Red Eye Theatre (Iris, Maria/Stuart), Actors Theater of Minnesota (Fezziwig's Feast), Theatre Pro Rata (Marisol), Twenty Percent Theatre Company (The Birth of Venus), History Theatre, Playwrights Center, Open Eye Figure Theatre, and Teatro del Pueblo. New York credits include Animal Farm: The Puppet Musical (National Tour), Over the Moon (Eugene O'Neill Theater Center), Manfest Cabaret (New Georges), Twentyone (Spring Theatreworks), and her original solo play Trip (Provincetown Playhouse, winner of the Jig Cook Playwriting Award).