Starting this Thursday, September 15, Cherry Manhattan Presents is bringing the stage adaptation of Ann Bannon‘s iconic lesbian pulp fiction novels, The Beebo Brinker Chronicles to the Re-Bar‘s stage for a four-week run. This is the Seattle premier of the Chronicles, but the play enjoyed a sold-out off-Broadway debut in 2008 (with none other than Lily Tomlin co-producing) and won the 2008 GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Media Award.
Who is this Beebo Brinker you ask? Beebo made her debut in Ann Bannon’s 1959 pulp-novel ‘I Am A Woman‘ which finds main character Laura London, having to choose between a bi-curious straight woman and Beebo. Beebo was the embodiment of the “butch” lesbian – tall, handsome, smart, with an impressive physique. Beebo was also a treasured creation of Bannon’s. She said, “I put Beebo together just as I wanted her, in my heart and mind…She was just, quite literally, the butch of my dreams.”
Ann Bannon wrote the Chronicles from 1957 to 1962 as a young American housewife who was coming to terms with her own sexuality. She was 22 when she wrote her first novel and early lesbian fiction such as ‘The Well of Loneliness‘ by Radclyffe Hall and Vin Packer‘s 1952 novel ‘Spring Fire‘, had a deep impact on her. She said, “Both books obsessed me for the better part of two years” and she found that they struck a chord with her, despite being newly married and soon to be a mother of two children.
Bannon lived in Philadelphia but took regular trips to New York City and more specifically Greenwich Village, where she stayed with friends, friends who would influence the characters in her novels. She said, “I wanted to be one of them, to speak to other women, if only in print. And so I made a beginning and that beginning was the story that became ‘Odd Girl Out‘” That book would become the first in the Beebo Brinker Chronicles and it tells the story of a lesbian relationship between two sorority sisters from a fictional mid western university. Bannon’s books are now considered to be “the premier fictional representation of US lesbian life in the fifties and sixties” and are taught in Women’s and LGBT studies. Bannon has received awards for her work in pioneering lesbian and gay literature and she’s heralded for portraying homosexual relationships with relative accuracy, as opposed to relying on the stereotypical lesbian character of the time who is punished for her desires.
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Now, Cherry Manhattan Presents pays tribute to these seminal works after a three-night sold out performance at ACT Theater’s Central Heating Lab. This adaptation is based on the novels ‘I Am A Woman‘, ‘Women in Shadows‘ and ‘Journey to a Woman‘ and stars Polly Wood, Opal Peachey, Cherry Manhattan, Sasha Summer Couisneau, Donna Stewart and Rhonda J. Soikowski as Beebo Brinker. Opening night is tonight and features a reception with Ann Bannon herself and tickets are flying out the door so be sure to pick yours up right over here. There will also be a photo exhibition throughout the run featuring Paul O’Connell‘s recreations of pulp novel covers starring local burlesque stars as well so be sure not to miss this tribute to a pioneering author and her beloved characters.
Posted by Jimmy