‘Becomes A Woman’ enters last week
Mint Theater Company (Jonathan Bank, Producing Artistic Director) has returned to New York City Center Stage II with the World Premiere of one of its most exciting discoveries ever: Becomes a Woman, an unpublished and unproduced play by Betty Smith (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn). Smith’s 1930 never-before-seen drama continues through March 18th only.
Becomes a Woman is the story of Francie, a 19-year-old living with her family in Brooklyn and working at a five and dime store as a singer at the sheet music counter. Her co-workers describe her as “afraid of her family, afraid of the boss, afraid to make a date.” But as Francie becomes a woman, she discovers a hidden reserve of courage that surprises everyone, even herself.
Featured in the cast directed by Britt Berke are Duane Boutté (Broadway: Parade, Carousel; Off-Broadway: The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin, The Heliotrope Bouquet by Scott Joplin & Louis Chauvin – Playwrights Horizons); Christopher Reed Brown (Off-Broadway debut!); Jeb Brown (Broadway: Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark, Elton John & Tim Rice’s Aida; Off-Broadway: Scotland, PA – Roundabout; Romantic Poetry – Manhattan Theatre Club); Gina Daniels (Broadway: Network; Off-Broadway: Judgment Day – Park Avenue Armory); Antoinette LaVecchia (Broadway: Torch Song – Second Stage Theatre, A View from the Bridge ; Off-Broadway: String of Pearls – Primary Stages); Jillian Louis (Broadway: It Shoulda Been You; Off-Broadway: Tenderloin – York Theatre; Chick Flick the Musical; Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol); Jack Mastrianni (Broadway: A Christmas Story The Musical!); Jason O’Connell (Off-Broadway: Judgment Day – Park Avenue Armory; Pride and Prejudice – Primary Stages; Sense and Sensibility, The Seagull – Bedlam); Emma Pfitzer Price (Off-Broadway debut!); Scott Redmond (Oklahoma! National Tour); Pearl Rhein (Broadway: Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812; Off-Broadway: The Taming of the Shrew – Public Theater/Delacorte, Volpone – Red Bull Theater, The Lucky Ones – Ars Nova); Madeline Seidman (Off-Broadway debut!); Phillip Taratula (Broadway: The Skin of Our Teeth – Lincoln Center Theater, Off-Broadway: Riddle of the Trilobites – New Victory); Peterson Townsend (Chains – Mint Theater); and Tim Webb (A Charlie Brown Christmas Live On Stage – National Tour). The creative team includes Vicki R. Davis(scenic), Emilee McVey-Lee (costumes), Mary Louise Geiger (lighting), M. Florian Staab (sound), Amy Stoller (dialects and dramaturgy), and Stephanie Klapper, CSA (casting), who was recently nominated for an Artios Award by the Casting Society of America for Mint Theater’s The Daughter-in-Law.
Remaining performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30pm, with matinees Wednesday and Saturday at 2:30pm. Masks are required for Tuesday evening’s performances. At all other performances, masks are optional but strongly encouraged.
Tickets forBecomes a Woman, which are on sale now, start at $38 (including $3 facility fee) and may be purchased online at NYCityCenter.org, by calling 212/581-1212, or in person at the New York City Center box office located at 131 West 55th Street (between 6th & 7th Avenues). Phone and online orders incur an additional $7 handling fee.
“I write plays because I’d rather do that than anything else in the world” – Betty Smith, 1937.
Betty Smith (December 15th 1896 – January 17th 1972) was best known for her 1943 bestselling novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Published to instant critical and popular acclaim, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, along with her other novels, possessed the same strong autobiographical overtones of a brightness amid poverty and enduring optimism amid oppression. Though acclaimed as a novelist, Betty Smith’s first love was always the theater. From a young age, Smith had a deep and abiding interest in the theater; she regularly attended Saturday matinees at Brooklyn theaters for ten cents each, which allowed her to stand in the gallery. Although she never graduated from high school, Betty ended up pursuing an education at the University of Michigan where her life reached a turning point when she won the University’s Avery Hopwood Award which came with a cash prize enabling Smith to invest in herself and accept an invitation to study drama at Yale with the legendary George Pierce Baker. Other Baker students over the years have included Eugene O’Neill, Philip Barry, Thomas Wolfe, and George Abbott, among others. Smith died of pneumonia in Shelton Connecticut at the age of 75.
Britt Berke has directed and developed projects with New York Theatre Workshop (Adelphi residency), The Public Theatre, Mabou Mines, Torn Out Theater (AKA “the naked Shakespeare company”), La Mama, Cherry Lane: Tongues Series, NYU Studio Tisch, Ithaca College Hillel, PLAYDATE, and Origin Theater’s 1st Irish Festival (Best Director nomination). Most recently, Britt directed and co-produced a concert of original songs to benefit NourishNYC, a grassroots mutual aid group. Britt and her work have been featured in The New Yorker, Time Out New York, Artforum, and SDC Journal. Britt is a member of Roundabout Directors Group and the co-founder of November Theatre (a transatlantic collective); she is an alumna of the MTC Directing Fellowship, the Moxie Incubator, the 24 Hour Plays: Nationals, and the SDC & NAMT Directing Observerships. She has collaborated with and assistant directed for JoAnne Akalaitis, Lileana Blain-Cruz, Gabriel Vega-Weissman and Alice Reagan. Britt attended Barnard College of Columbia University, where she was awarded the Kenneth Janes Prize for Outstanding Intellectual and Artistic Achievement. Associate Member, SDC. brittberke.com.
“Of all the countless Off-Broadway troupes with which the side streets of Manhattan are dotted, none has a more distinctive mission—or a higher artistic batting average—than the Mint Theater Company, which ‘finds and produces worthwhile plays from the past that have been lost or forgotten.’ If that sounds dull to you, don’t be fooled: I’ve never seen a production there that was a sliver less than superb. Rachel Crothers’s Susan and God, John Galsworthy’s The Skin Game, Harley Granville-Barker’s The Madras House, N.C. Hunter’s A Day by the Sea, Dawn Powell’s Walking Down Broadway, Jules Romains’s Doctor Knock,John Van Druten’s London Wall: All these fine plays and others just as good have been exhumed by the Mint to memorable effect in the 13 years that I’ve been reviewing the company, a tribute to the uncanny taste and unfailing resourcefulness of Jonathan Bank, the artistic director,” said Terry Teachout in the Wall Street Journal. Mint was awarded an OBIE Award for “combining the excitement of discovery with the richness of tradition” and a special Drama Desk Award for “unearthing, presenting and preserving forgotten plays of merit.”For more information including photos and videos of previous Mint productions, visit minttheater.org.