A bout of insomnia had me flipping through the television one evening when I stumbled onto a badly produced documentary about the women romantically linked to President John F. Kennedy. I couldn’t watch for long because it wasn’t about the women as much as it was demonizing them. I started digging deeper on my own and found that the women in his life were, frankly, much more interesting than the man himself. These women were strong, brilliant, courageous and their stories deserved to be told. No, they must be told. What better way to accomplish this than through the eyes and ears of the women of today? When I first went to Molly Breen with the idea for a monologue show, she took my vision and made it more than superb. The result was a show produced, directed, written, acted and completed by women. I hope you will not just see the brave, intelligent and beautiful women in JFK’s life, but the ones on stage in front of you and behind the scenes. Angela Gimlin, Co-ProducerA bout of insomnia had me flipping through the television one evening when I stumbled onto a badly produced documentary about the women romantically linked to President John F. Kennedy. I couldn’t watch for long because it wasn’t about the women as much as it was demonizing them. I started digging deeper on my own and found that the women in his life were, frankly, much more interesting than the man himself. These women were strong, brilliant, courageous and their stories deserved to be told. No, they must be told. What better way to accomplish this than through the eyes and ears of the women of today? When I first went to Molly Breen with the idea for a monologue show, she took my vision and made it more than superb. The result was a show produced, directed, written, acted and completed by women. I hope you will not just see the brave, intelligent and beautiful women in JFK’s life, but the ones on stage in front of you and behind the scenes.
-- Angela Gimlin, Co-Producer, That Woman - The Monologue Show
American theatre and film are rooted in misogyny and racism. Many of us are so used to people of an extraordinarily high beauty standard portraying ordinary people on our stages and, in particular, on our screens, that we may not even question this blatantly incongruent norm. For women, the default for this so-called “beauty” standard has been young, small and white, which, in turn, has created barriers for many talented women to pursue acting careers, which are historically and primarily cast from these types. Unfortunately, this gatekeeping has caused us to miss great talent on our stages and screens. Fortunately, this is changing a bit; but the change is far too late and slow in my opinion. When Angela brought me her idea, I knew it was something special, but we both agreed we did not want to create this show that way. Although some of these historical figures exemplified the current beauty standard of their times, they were also human beings who experienced the same range of emotions that we all navigate in our daily lives. By recruiting writers and casting actors of varying ages, ethnicities, and who experience the world in a range of body types, we hope that the audience can further appreciate the shared humanity of each woman’s story. Only a few of us women will actually serve as a First Lady, or become a film icon, but we all have felt loss, betrayal, joy, and a range of sexual experiences along spectrums of desire and fulfillment to abuse and assault. I believe all women can relate to something in each of these stories. Prior to this project, I knew next to nothing about the history of women involved with JFK, other than that he cheated on his wife and that there were rumors of an affair with Marilyn Monroe. Through co-creating this show, I have learned much history that, I believe, is not common knowledge and that has been - in many cases - deliberately and systematically kept from the public.
I also believe that every interaction we have as human beings changes us, at least in some small way. The President of the United States is not immune to this. The interactions he had with these women helped to form his character, and thus, affected him and his policies as leader of the States (in some cases, quite directly). They are important to history, and I am happy to share some of their stories with you. Some of these women, such as Mimi Alford, Blaze Starr, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and Judith Exner, gave us their thoughts, feelings and experiences in the form of books and interviews, on which our playwrights have based these monologues. For others, such as Priscilla Wear and Ellen Rometsch, very little about their personal feelings about their romantic/sexaul relationships with John F. Kennedy, along with other details of their lives are unknown. Thus, the feelings expressed in these monologues have been crafted by the playwrights as historical fiction that supposes what the women might have been feeling in light of facts that are public knowledge. Circumstances surrounding Mary Pinchot Meyer remain a mystery, and the playwright has used artistic license to imagine various scenarios and possible feelings for this character. We believe this all adds up to a fascinating night of theatre, and I hope you agree. I hope that the women of history depicted here tonight would be pleased by how their stories have been told in That Woman - The Monologue Show.
--Molly Breen, Co-Producer, That Woman - The Monologue Show
I was honored to have been asked to be a part of this production and to work with these amazingly talented women. The creators, writers and performers of THAT WOMAN have used their voices and vision to give us a glimpse of a group of smart, interesting, strong women who were ahead of their time. I loved getting to "meet" these women and hope those seeing the show will feel the same way.
--Stephanie Houghton, Director, That Woman - The Monologue Show
In 2019, I was cast as Lady Capulet in a post-apocatylptic all-dance version of Romeo and Juliet called Violent Delights, which was conceived and directed by the brilliant Jim Manning (J. Edgar Hoover). Although I had studied dance as an adolescent, I, like so many other young women, let go of dance in my life - other than occasionally taking a ballet class here and there every few years - when it was clear that I would not be pursuing dance for a career. Violent Delights was an absolutely stunning and emotionally powerful show that drew its cast from a pool of professional dancers, former dancers, and actors who move/dance. Not only did this show give me the opportunity to dance again onstage after a 30-year absence, I was also surrounded by talented people with whom I loved working. And Jim’s vision in Violent Delights provided a model for me of how to create a theatrical dance show that included dancers of all ages and varying degrees of training and experience. The show tonight would simply not exist were it not for Jim and his creative genius. Thank you Jim!
When Angela Gimlin approached me with her idea for a monologue show written from the perspectives of women involved with JFK, I immediately began to imagine the possibilities of adding dance and other multi-media to the mix. Angela had more of a traditional monologue-type show in mind, but I didn’t want to lose the thread of telling these women’s stories through dance. So ultimately, I decided to create a separate dance show, which could serve as a companion piece to the monologue show. In the monologue show, Angela and I recruited actors/playwrights and allowed them the freedom to choose and research the subject for their monologues, and I followed suit in developing the dance show, letting each of the 11 choreographers in this show follow their own vision for their pieces, trusting that these pieces would organically connect these individual women’s stories. And they have!
I am an actor and a writer, but I have never had an interest in other aspects of theatre-making, including directing. I probably would have made a terrible theatre major, as I have little to no skill or interest in tech, sound or lighting design, costumes, make-up, sets, props, stage management, etc., and directing is no exception to this. Although some of the more artistic processes involved with directing a show appeal to me, my dislike of the more practical duties of directing have always outweighed any desire to throw my hat into this particular ring. But I wanted to create this show. So…
Although I see this show as somewhat of an experimental piece, I feel that all theatre in the time of covid is experimental. One never knows if a show that has been worked on for weeks or months will suddenly need to be cancelled, or have a shortened run, or have to be reworked due to an absence of a sick cast member. It’s risky out here, and you have to be willing to work on a project that could be potentially pulled at any time. But it has also served to make many artists more flexible with expectations, which in some ways can be freeing. And, as I am writing this very close to opening, we seem to have made it at least to opening night…
Should you attend That Woman - The Monologue Show (and you should!), you will learn even more about these women and their stories, but I love this magical pathway that dance allows for the imaginative interpretation of historical events. And I also love how having a cast of dancers who range in age and experience levels brings an element of character and humanity to this production, which may not be as easily accessible in fully professional dance productions. I believe that, like theatre, dance is for everyone, and I have loved creating opportunities for newer and/or returning dancers/choreographers in this show, alongside seasoned pros.
I also believe that every interaction we have as human beings changes us, at least in some small way. The President of the United States is not immune to this. The interactions he had with the women you will see depicted tonight helped to form his character, and thus, affected him and his policies as leader of the States (in some cases, quite directly). These women are important to history, and many involved with JFK suffered greatly for this association. They have been dismissed, criticized and worse. I am honored to have had a role - along with 10 other choreographers and 14 other dancers - in sharing their stories with you, through dance.
--Molly Breen, Director, That Woman - The Dance Show