By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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Six actresses will tell their stories: “A Conversation with Hattie McDaniel,” “Lunchtime Temp” and “Hazel Speaks!,” in special Women's History Month events Friday night in Port Angeles and Sunday afternoon in Sequim.
The League of Women Voters of Clallam County is presenting the trilogy of short plays, which will take theatergoers into the lives of Bobbi, an office worker; McDaniel the Hollywood actress; and Hazel Wolf, who was both a member of the Communist Party and secretary of the Seattle Audubon Society.
The curtain will rise on “Women of Courage” at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Port Angeles Community Playhouse, 1235 E. Lauridsen Blvd., and at 2 p.m. Sunday at Olympic Theatre Arts, 414 N. Sequim Ave. The suggested donation is $15, with proceeds benefiting the League of Women Voters' Clallam chapter.
“Not only are the characters being portrayed as amazing 'Women of Courage,' the actors who bring them to life on the stage are as well,” said Rebecca Redshaw, the Sequim playwright who penned all three stories.
First up: “Lunchtime Temp,” starring Heather Dudley Nollette of Port Townsend as Bobbi, a woman of humble means. Her second job is answering phones at a clinic during the noon hour. In this short one-woman show, one call changes everything.
Next is “Hazel Speaks!,” in which Wolf, who lived to be 101, is portrayed by four actresses.
Marianne Trowbridge, Elizabeth Kelly, Helen Carrick and Charlotte McElroy give voice to the activist who was nearly deported for her communist party involvement.
Wolf was born in Victoria in 1898 and grew up poor. Trained as a social worker, she was active in immigration issues during and after the McCarthy era of the 1950s.
Despite being targeted by the Immigration and Naturalization Service as a subversive foreign national, she became a U.S. citizen and later an environmental activist who worked all over the Northwest.
After these two “Women of Courage” plays comes an intermission; then Nollette returns in the final piece, “A Conversation with Hattie McDaniel.”
She is Kathy, a woman at death's door; a terrible illness has her wondering if she can keep fighting.
In a kind of transitional place, Kathy meets McDaniel, who won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Mammy in 1939's “Gone with the Wind” but dealt with discrimination on and off her movie sets.
Marie O'Neill of Sequim, who plays McDaniel, is reveling in the opportunity to tell her story.
“It's about her years in show business, her friendship with Clark Gable and other actors, and how she helped change Hollywood,” O'Neill said.
In this “Conversation,” McDaniel talks with Kathy about obstacles and how to face them.
“These are very strong individuals who are fun to learn about,” Redshaw said of her “Women of Courage.”
For “Hazel Speaks!,” written especially for this presentation, Redshaw read Susan Starbuck's biography Hazel Wolf: Fighting the Establishment — and enjoyed it thoroughly.
When Wolf died in 2000, Starbuck writes, more than 900 of her friends — union organizers to birdwatchers to hunters — crowded Seattle's Town Hall to share their common currency: true, often-outrageous “Hazel stories.”
Tickets to “Women of Courage” are available in advance at Port Book and News, 104 E. First St., Port Angeles; and Pacific Mist Books, 121 W. Washington St. in Sequim.
For more details, visit www.LWVCLA.org or phone 360-681-2787.
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.