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The Debutante Ball

The Debutante Ball
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Beth Henley
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 63
Pub. Date: 1997
ISBN-10: 0822215837
ISBN-13: 9780822215837
Cast Size: 5 female, 2 male

About the Play:

The Debutante Ball is a full-length comedic drama by Beth Henley. An eccentric Southern family gathers on the eve of their misfit daughter's debut. Arrangements for Parker's debutante event are complicated by her mother, the formidable and quite possibly dangerous Jen Parker Turner, who has spent three years shunned by polite society after being acquitted of her husband's murder. With desperate hope for restoration of the family's honour, Jen fights secrets, lies and her own demons that threaten to ruin the family name once and for all.

The Debutante Ball is set in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and begins the morning of Teddy Parker's débutante ball, that archetypal phenomenon in Southern culture known as a maiden's "coming out" into society. Teddy's mother, the beautiful and formidable Jen Parker Turner, has willed this event into being. Ostracized from polite society ever since she was accused and – under much speculation and gossip – acquitted of the murder of her wealthy husband, Jen has been looking to Teddy's coming-out gala to revive her and her family's reputation. As the play unfolds, various secrets emerge: an unwanted pregnancy, an illicit romance, self-mutilation, mendacity and murder. Polite facades crumble and ugly truths twist and polka across the ballroom floor. The Debutante Ball is about the price of secrets and the power that love and lovelessness hold over our lives.

The Debutante Ball was originally produced in 1985 at South Coast Repertory in San Diego. The New York premier by the Manhattan Theater Club was in 1988, and it opened in London at the Hampstead Theatre in 1989. Since then the play has been successfully staged at several professional theatres across the US and has been mounted by colleges and community theatres.

Cast: 5 female, 2 male

What people say:

"…The Debutante Ball is the blackest of the Mississippi-born playwright's comedies and probably her best." — USA Today

"The Debutante Ball … is also blessed with Henley's striking gifts for outrageous theatricality, off-the-wall dialogue and sharply observed character." — The Register

"What is special about [Henley] as a writer – the sudden bursts of simple emotion, the capturing of joy wrapped up in calamity and the comic obsessions with grotesquerie and bodily functions … is abundantly evident." — Los Angeles Herald Examiner

About the Playwright:

Beth Henley is an award-winning American playwright, screenwriter, and professor best known for her play Crimes of the Heart (Pulitzer Prize in Drama and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best American Play). Her plays have been produced on Broadway and continue to be well-received and widely popular, both in professional and regional theatres throughout the United States as well as internationally and translated into twelve languages.

 

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