Saturday, March 12, 2011

ARE YOU A DREAM GIRL?

Elmer Rice, a graduate of New York Law School, wrote a number of award-winning plays. One of them ran 16 years on Broadway. It was Dream Girl.

Rice apparently wrote the play for his second wife, actress Betty Field, who played the lead in the Broadway production. My favourite actress Lucille Ball played the title role (Georgina Allerton) in a 22-week cross-country US tour of the play in 1947-48. By all reports Lucy was wonderful in the role [see pictures opposite and below] -- a real tour de force and her best stage work -- and she garnered praise from playwright Rice himself who wrote in his 1963 autobiography Minority Report:
"I have seen other productions of this play, but the only actress whose performance really delighted me was Lucille Ball. She lacked … tender wistfulness, but her vivid personality and expert timing kept the play bright and alive."

Betty Hutton starred, less successfully, in the film version of the play. Here is a brief clip from that film:


You can watch the entire film here

The role of Georgina ("Georgie") Allerton has been described as "one of the most demanding roles ever written ... [with] innumerable costume changes, six-hundred cues, and there are only sixty seconds in each act when the character is not on stage" (The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre 1900-1975). It is, according to one reviewer, "a part that pales Hamlet's into polite insignificance".

Twenty-two year-old debutante Georgie is the owner of a small unsuccessful bookstore. She also writes unpublishable novels. She has an overactive imagination and regularly escapes reality by means of her romantic daydreams about three men in her life, which are acted out on stage in typically
Expressionist style ... a wonderful way of getting into the inner thoughts and feelings of the characters! It's mindfulness on stage!
The play's time span covers a single day of Georgie's life, during which several successive extravagant and often comic daydreams are portrayed. In the view of the authors of the Encyclopedia of American Drama, "the play's chief attribute [is] the seamless integration of Georgina's dream life and reality".
Georgie, who is "as worldly as Alice in Wonderland", lives in Cloud-Cuckoo-Land. Like many people these days, who have been infected with the germ of postmodernism, she believes that “[i]f a dream is a real to you, why isn’t it as real as something you do?” The retort comes from the male lead, book reviewer Clark Redfield:
“Because dreaming is easy and life is hard. Because when you dream, you make your own rules, but when you try to do something, the rules are made for you by the limitations of your own nature and the shape of the world you live in. Because no matter how much you win in your dreams, your gains are illusory, and you always come away empty-handed. But in life, whether you win or lose, you’ve always got something to show for it – even if it’s only a scar or a painful memory.”
Clark urges Georgina to stop hiding from reality. The play ends when, at three-thirty in the morning, Georgina telephones her parents to tell them that she and Clark have married. Hopefully, her days of being a "dream girl" are behind her.
Mindfulness is anything but daydreaming. Being experiential and empirically-based, mindfulness involves facing up to, and living in, the reality of the everyday present moment. As such, it is a self-liberating experience ... a way to be free. Mindfulness is living in the mind’s natural state ... boundless ... spaceless. However, you remain firmly grounded at all times, with your awareness taking note of what’s going on, both in and outside of your mind. With mindfulness there is no non-purposeful thinking ... and no auto-pilot.
Don’t be a “dream girl”. Life is hard. In the words of Clark Redfield, “If you can make a dream come to life, grab hold of it. But if it dies on you, roll up your sleeves and give it a decent burial, instead of trying to haul the corpse around with you.”


NOTE. For those who are interested in the life and work of Lucille Ball, I have compiled a book entitled Who's Who in I Love Lucy. The book can be read online on SlideShare.




Images of Lucille Ball are licensed by Desilu, too, LLC.
Licensing by Unforgettable Licensing.
All Rights Reserved.


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