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Women Behind Bars

Women Behind Bars is a camp black comedy play by Tom Eyen, parodying the prison exploitation films produced by Universal, Warner Bros. and Republic Pictures during the 1950s.

Women Behind Bars
Written byTom Eyen
Date premieredMay 1, 1975 (1975-05-01)
Place premieredAstor Place Theatre
New York City
Original languageEnglish
GenreCamp

PlotEdit

Set in the Women's House of Detention in Greenwich Village, there is, among the range of women, an innocent young woman, a chain-smoking street-wise tough girl, and a delicate Southern belle reminiscent of Blanche DuBois. The innocent was framed by her husband on a charge of armed robbery, and is brutalized, betrayed and sexually assaulted throughout her eight-year sentence. She is ultimately broken by the system and leaves jail as a hard-edged, gum-chomping drug dealer. These women are overseen by the prison's sadistic matron and her henchman.

ProductionsEdit

Original 1975 productionEdit

The original production at the off-Broadway Astor Place Theatre opened on May 1, 1975, featuring Pat Ast, Helen Hanft, Mary-Jennifer Mitchell and Sharon Barr. Alan Eichler was co-producer and press representative.[1]

1976 revivalEdit

The play was revived in 1976 at the Truck and Warehouse Theatre in New York with Pink Flamingos star Divine as the matron.[1] It quickly developed a cult following and became a success.[2]

1977 London productionEdit

In 1977 the play, again starring Divine as the matron, had a successful run at the Whitehall Theatre in the West End of London. Fiona Richmond co-starred.

1983 revivalEdit

The play was revived once again in Los Angeles in 1983, directed by Ron Link and featuring Lu Leonard, Adrienne Barbeau and Sharon Barr. The LA production ran for almost a year, first at the Cast Theater and then moving to the Roxy Theatre.[3] Sally Kellerman and Linda Blair later joined the cast.

2012 live readingEdit

On May 7, 2012, The New Group presented a reading of directed by Scott Elliott.

Cast

ContemporaryEdit

Women Behind Bars continues to be produced by gay repertory companies, such as San Francisco's Theatre Rhinoceros.[4]

ReceptionEdit

The subtle lesbianism apparent in the original B movies is emphasized comedically throughout. The New York Times described the play as "an extraordinarily interesting work from one of America's most innovative and versatile playwrights."[5]

SequelEdit

Eyen and Divine wrote a 1978 follow-up play called The Neon Woman, which was produced in New York and San Francisco.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Women Behind Bars at the Internet Off-Broadway Database.
  2. ^ "Divine on stage and screen". www.dreamlandnews.com. Retrieved 2018-03-20.
  3. ^ "Louder than Words: Ron Link, 1944-1999". Obituary in LA Weekly. June 9, 1999. Accessed December 5, 2013.
  4. ^ "Talkin' Broadway Regional News & Reviews: San Francisco - "Women Behind Bars - 3/25/02". www.talkinbroadway.com. Retrieved 2018-03-20.
  5. ^ Frank, Leah D. "Theater Review; PRISON SATIRE WITH BITTER LAUGHS". Retrieved 2018-03-20.

External linksEdit