WOMEN OF THE WIND
Place and Time: A New York film studio, a green room, a Broadway theater, a theater dressing room and a radio station. 1939.
Women of the Wind explores the lives of two secondary cast members of the movie Gone with the Wind and the fading star hired to coach some of the screen tests. African-American Butterfly McQueen, Prissy in Gone with the Wind, appeared in the production of Barbara Kahn’s first play Gravediggers (co-authored with Ray Hagen and presented by Ellen Stewart at LaMaMa E.T.C.). “She was a professional,” Barbara recalls, “gracious and generous to us ‘youngsters,’ and I witnessed the talent she had that was never fully utilized in Hollywood. Prissy defined her career, obscuring her years as a dancer and Broadway actor.” Ona Munson, brothel owner Belle Watling in Gone with the Wind, had three career-protecting heterosexual marriages that she hoped would deflect attention from her intimate relationships with other women. Alla Nazimova, born in Crimea, studied with Stanislavski until it was discovered that she was Jewish. (Jews were banned in the Moscow Art Theatre.) Emigrating to the U.
Barbara: My father was a refugee from war and oppression whose hopes of an education and a career as a writer were aborted by the fight for survival. He passed his dreams of an education to all of his children and his desire to be a writer to me in particular. In my historical plays, I attempt to understand the human condition that results in people oppressing others because of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or other factors. I put a human face to the facts in order to break through the emotional barriers people erect between themselves and the oppressed. Witnessing characters onstage going through an experience has an impact that is not tempered by holding a newspaper or looking at a television screen. My plays are written with a commitment to truth and historical accuracy. French author George Sand wrote, “All I want is for people to question the accepted lies and call out for the forgotten truths,” and I have taken her goal as my own.
This production was made possible in part by the generosity of the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation. The Foundation has been supporting the work of Barbara Kahn for many years, originally under the leadership of the late Arch Brown, whose legacy of devotion to LGBT history and to the theater we acknowledge with gratitude.
This production was made possible in part with public funds from the Manhattan Community Arts Fund, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and administered by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.
Photo credit: Everett Clark