Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mae West: Courting Mae in Oz

This Saturday — — today on 28 January 2012 — — Marie-Therese Byrne will take the role of MAE WEST in "Courting Mae West," a serious-minded comedy written by LindaAnn Loschiavo. A one-time only presentation Down Under, the play will have a rehearsed reading under the direction of Cameron Menzies during the Midsumma Festival, now in its 24th year.
• • Australia's trendy L.O.T.L. Magazine said: "Those in the mood for some titillating theatre should consider 'Courting Mae West,' part of Midsumma's Playing in the Raw season."
• • She broke the law — — but the law didn't break her! • •
• • Based on true events during the Prohibition Era — — from December 1926 until December 1932 — — the play follows a pre-Hollywood Mae West, age 33, as she socializes in the drag cabaret where she had cast "The Drag" (in Act I, Scene 1), a daring production she plans to bring to Broadway. Unfortunately, she gets arrested and jailed instead (Act 1, Scene 3). Censorship, courtroom battles, bankruptcy, and other crises will dog her footsteps, forcing the Brooklyn bombshell to climb the ladder of success wrong by wrong. Finally, a Paramount Pictures star at 39 years old, Mae gets to bring her box-office blockbuster "Diamond Lil" to the silver screen on her own terms by the end of 1932.
• • Veteran actress Marie-Therese Byrne will portray the 33-year-old Broadway star — — and outspoken Jefferson Jail inmate. Her bio notes that Bryne's vast experience stretches across decades and includes theatre, opera, film, and television. A consummate performer with a powerful presence, she has thrilled audiences in productions as versatile as Five Minute Call, The Secret Garden, Dimboola, Seven Little Australians, The Sound of Music and Summer of the Saw. Her stunning voice has seen her work with the Victorian State Opera on Joan of Arc, Aida and Carmen along with The Merry Widow and Di Fledermaus. On screen she appeared in the Aussie films The Castle, and Evil Angels along with appearances on Blue Heelers, Neighbours, Sons and Daughters, Phoenix, Prisoner, Australia's Most Wanted and Flying Doctors.
• • The various men, judges, attorneys, news dealers, directors, and drag queens in Mae West's life will be brought to life by the actors Marc Opitz, Sarah Roberts, Kathryn Tohill, Gabrielle Llewelyn-Salter, Glen Moore, Tom Beaupaire,
and Joshua Hackett.
• • WHAT: "Courting Mae West: Sex, Censorship & Secrets" by US playwright and Mae West authority LindaAnn Loschiavo
• • WHEN: Saturday, 28 January 2012 — — from 2.00pm — 4:30pm
• • WHERE: Midsumma Playing-In-The-Raw at The Chapel [Prahran, Australia]
• • VENUE: Chapel Off Chapel, in the City of Stonnington, has earned, both nationally and internationally, an excellent reputation as a progressive arts and entertainment venue.
• • Restrictions: R18
• • Special thanks to Robert Chuter for selecting "Courting Mae West" for Midsumma Playing-In-The-Raw's series.
• • Tell them you heard about it on The Mae West Blog.
• • Colette [1873 — 1954] • •
• • Colette was the pen name of the novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette [28 January 1873 — 3 August 1954]. Born in January in Yonne, France twenty years before Mae West, Colette praised the Brooklynite as the ultimate woman who did not defer to a man — — on celluloid or in reality.
• • The frisky French author wrote a notable essay in 1934, assessing the impact of Mae West onscreen. Colette observed: "She alone, out of an enormous and dull catalogue of heroines, does not get married at the end of the film, does not die, does not take the road to exile, does not gaze sadly at her declining youth in a silver-framed mirror …. She alone has no parents, no children, no husband. This impudent woman is, in her style, as solitary as Chaplin used to be. ..."
• • Zora Neale Hurston [1891 — 1960] • •
• • January is an ideal time to look back at another sharp-eyed female scribe, Zora Neale Hurston.
• • Born in Alabama, Zora Neale Hurston [7 January 1891 — 28 January 1960] was a folklorist and an author during the time of the Harlem Renaissance. Her best known work was the novel "Their Eyes Were Watching God" [1937]. In 2002, scholars listed Zora Neale Hurston among the 100 Greatest African-Americans.
• • It seems that Mae West had tinted some photographs to make herself resemble her black maid. And chronicler Zora Neale Hurston in a 1934 essay, ''Characteristics of Negro Expression,'' said that Mae West ''had much more flavor of the turpentine quarters than she did of the white bawd.''
• • On Thursday, 28 January 1937 in Maryland • •
• • "At the Tivoli today and tomorrow!" announced the paid notice in the Frederick News-Post, covering the arts and entertainment scene for Frederick, Maryland. "Mae West in Paramount's 'Go West Young Man' with Warren William, Randolph Scott, Alice Brady." This bold-faced stand-alone ad stood out in the Frederick News-Post on Thursday, 28 January 1937.
• • On Friday, 28 January 1938 in The Harvard Crimson • •
• • The Moviegoer, W.B., informed his student readers with this headline: "Fred Warning and Pennsylvanians Cut Capers on Stage; Mae West Takes Lead in a Clean Picture."
• • The Moviegoer, W.B. wrote: Fred Warning and his mad, merrymaking Pennsylvanians top the bill at the Metropolitan Theatre this week with an hour of swing punctuated by the informal capers of the orchestra. On the screen Mae West plays the rather weak part of a confidence girl with an honest heart in "Every Day's A Holiday." ...
• • The Moviegoer, W.B. continued: The picture is not of the best, but it does sustain interest, and Charles Butterworth and Charles Winniger should get top honors for the many laughs they provide in this drama of New York at the turn of the century. Both dialogue and action are definitely clean, perhaps suspiciously so. Miss West's fans will find, however, that she wears the gowns of the era to perfection, although they may not like the change from blonde to brunette. ...
• • These excerpts are from a longer feature published in The Harvard Crimson Friday, 28 January 1938.
• • On Saturday, 28 January 1978 in Los Angeles • •
• • Trying to catch up on paperwork on a Saturday, Mae was paying bills. A personal check was signed by Mae West on 28 January 1978. It was payable to "Dept. of Water & Gas" for the sum of $18.47.
• • On Friday, 28 January 2011 in New Jersey • •
• • Known for screening motion picture classics, The Landmark Loews Jersey Theatre located on Journal Square in Jersey City, New Jersey, showed "She Done Him Wrong" [1933] starring Mae West, Cary Grant, and Noah Beery, Sr. on Friday night, 28 January 2011. The brochure noted: Mae West's first and best film, since it was not watered down by the subsequently production code censors. It is the ultimate distillation of her charismatic persona of simmering seductiveness and innuendo-laced one liners. Directed by Lowell Sherman (65 Minutes).
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: Don’t confuse procreation with recreation. She’s married. Maybe she can’t breed in captivity. (long pause) So is your cash disappearing? Mmm. How safe are the FAMILY JEWELS? [one line from the play "Courting Mae West"]
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • Lillian Schlissel wrote: "The vulgarity of Mae West plays was meant to disrupt the standards of propriety. The speech was intended to sow the seeds of revolution.”
• • Source: "Three Plays by Mae West: 'Sex,' 'The Drag' and 'The Pleasure Man'," edited by Lillian Schlissel [Routledge, 246 pages]. A good book to own.
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2191st blog post. Unlike many blogs, which draw upon reprinted content from a newspaper or a magazine and/ or summaries, links, or photos, the mainstay of this blog is its fresh material focused on the life and career of Mae West, herself an American original.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • Courting Mae West • •
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