GLEN RIDGE, NJ — The Women’s Club of Glen Ridge will present a staged reading Tuesday, Jan. 15, of “Laundry and Bourbon,” a one-act play by James McLure. The reading will be directed by Heather Ballantyne and feature Erin Dilly, Deshja Driggs-Hall and Ballantyne.
“Laundry and Bourbon” is set on a front porch during a 1960s summer afternoon in Texas. Two women, Elizabeth, who is pregnant, and Hattie, are conversing as they fold clothes and drink bourbon. They are joined by another woman, Amy Lee, who mentions the infidelity of Elizabeth’s husband.
But Elizabeth loves her husband and he needs her. In the production, Elizabeth is played by Ballantyne, Hattie by Dilly and Driggs-Hall is Amy Lee.
In a telephone interview earlier this week, Ballantyne said what is interesting about her character is that she is at a crossroad with her husband having difficulties from his Vietnam experience.
“He’s been cheating on her and she hopes he’ll snap out of it,” she said. “She’s strong, but really relies on her best friend, Hattie. She’s pregnant with her first child and conflicted. Her husband is not doing well and having nightmares. She wants him the way he was.”
Ballantyne said she thinks the opening of the show is great with her character smoking and drinking.
“It’s the ‘60s and they didn’t know it wasn’t good to drink and be pregnant,” she said.
“Laundry and Bourbon” was written as a prequel to “Lone Star,” another play by McLure. It is about three men, one of whom is Elizabeth’s husband. But Ballantyne said in directing the reading, she focused on the three women.
“Elizabeth doesn’t mind him cheating,” she said. “It doesn’t look good, but she’s not going anywhere. She’s in for the long haul because she loves him so much.”
Although the WCGR presentation is billed as a stage reading, props are used, the actors wear costumes and move about as they read their parts.
“I think it makes it fun for the audience,” she said. “When we started, I thought we could get off book, but we kept it a staged reading.”
Ballantyne thought the cast could not have done more unless they committed to an actual show although rehearsals revealed different levels of the characters. She did not think at first the actors would penetrate so deeply.
“It’s a staged reading, but it’s more than any staged reading that I’ve seen,” she said.
The chairwoman of the WCGR Drama Committee, Lyn Vaux, asked Ballantyne this past summer to direct and perform in the show. Vaux gave her the script.
“She knows I work with Erin,” Ballantyne said. “We started rehearsals in mid-November, but the holidays happened.”
According to Ballantyne, theater schools use “Laundry and Bourbon” as part of their course work.
“The play is familiar to me,” she said. “I love it because it’s all-female and for the Women’s Club.”
Vaux, in an interview, said she was introduced to the play while in college.
“The Women’s Club doesn’t have the opportunity to do many plays,” she said. “Professional actors can do this quickly.”
All cast members of the WCGR presentation are professional.
Vaux said she became the drama committee chairwoman three years ago. Last year, she presented a lecture by a stage manager and during her first year she produced excerpts from a play about motherhood titled, “Motherhood Out Loud.”
“I saw it produced in the Union Congregational Church, in Montclair,” she said.
“Laundry and Bourbon” will be staged on platforms placed on the ballroom floor. Ballantyne said Texas drawls will be employed.
“It’s fun,” she said. “You can’t do it without an accent. And the wardrobe helps the actor to be more present. And two of the characters are wearing the same dress.”
On the day of the performance, lunch will be served at noon with the performance at 1 p.m. There is a lunch and performance fee or a performance fee only. Running time of the reading is about 45 minutes.
For further information, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 973-748-5459.