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Work: White Whore and the Bit Player, The

Identifier: WORK.1965.0019
Creation Date: 1965
Description: Set “in the mind of a famous blonde, during the ten seconds between her act of suicide and her actual death. [The play] invok[es] both the death from uremia of Jean Harlow and the barbiturate overdose of Marilyn Monroe, as well as the Hollywood myth of fading stars being killed off to boost their box office value… The play’s two characters present two sides of the same troubled psyche, enacting the stereotypes of blonde movie temptress and penitent nun, but also frequently switching and doubling these roles to suggest a kind of schizophrenic confusion. This is matched by an abrasive and—for the earlier 1960s—shocking use of sexual self-display: the nun, for instance, masturbates by rubbing herself against the life-size crucifix that is the only set item... the intent is clearly to capture a visceral sense of psychic breakdown, of the feelings of self-hatred and worthlessness that could drive someone to suicide.”  Stephen J. Bottoms, Playing Underground: A Critical History of the 1960s Off-Off-Broadway Movement (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006), p. 99-100.


"A play about *one* woman, before and after she made it. The nun-mind--what she imagines herself to be. The whore-flesh--what the world saw her to be. Taking place from the time she commits suicide, by strangulation on her asylum room cross, to the time she actually dies, ten seconds later. The play being all the flashes that appear in clear view of death--and the inevitable struggle (once she knows she is going to die) to live. A play about *one* woman who didn't *quite* make it." Program for The White Whore and the Bit Player (1971) [OBJ.1971.0001]

The script for this play was published as The White Whore and the Bit Player: A Play in One Act (Hill and Wang, 1968).
Related Entity
Tom Eyen (playwright)
Related Collection
Films