A dramatic memoir of early Twentieth century America by Jeanette Walls

Dramaturgy: PHIL SMITH
Musical composer & director: JOHN KENNY
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Director’s notes/ Description

After a fascinating memoir about her vagabond parents (The Glass Castle, 2005), Walls turns her sights on her grandmother Lily Casey Smith, who died when Walls was eight. Because she uses a first-person narrative voice to capture Lily’s scrappy voice and imaginatively fills in some of the missing details of Lily’s life, Walls calls the work “A True-Life Novel,”. TNT and the American Drama Group Europe turn this work into a “True life play”. Lily’s father is an eccentric who once spent three years in prison for murder, idolizes Billy the Kid and believes child’s play is a waste of time. Lily’s childhood on ranches in west Texas and New Mexico is an idyll filled with chores like breaking horses. She wins academic honors at the Catholic boarding school she attends until her father spends her tuition money to buy some dogs. A scrapper, Lily overcomes every setback. When the Depression hits , she moves to Chicago, where she marries a salesman who turns out to be a thieving bigamist, “a crumb bum” as Lily calls him. At 27, she starts college in Arizona where she meets and marries Jim Smith, whose no-nonsense smarts match Lily’s. When money gets scarce, Lily, supplements the family income by selling bootleg liquor. Jim lands a job managing a 100,000-acre cattle ranch and builds a dam that allows the ranch to survive a terrible drought. Lily’s relationship with her equally headstrong but less practical daughter Rosemary—who grows up to be Wall’s mother—becomes increasingly prickly but nothing can stop this woman and she carves her path through the “American Century”.

The play is written by Paul Stebbings and Phil Smith who have a long and successful history of adapting prose for the stage, which includes: ONE LANGUAGE MANY VOICES, MOON PALACE , THE GRAPES OF WRATH and FAHRENHEIT 451

The production will include a newly composed musical score and dynamic physical theatre and startling visual imagery – a style that has made TNT and ADGE probably “The most popular touring theatre company in the world” China National TV.