A True Good Samaritan

The parable of the Good Samaritan illustrates the concept of “Love your neighbor as yourself.” As told in Luke 10: 25-37 a lawyer asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”  The literal definition of neighbor is someone who lives near or someone to whom one has a close association. The parable, however, extends the concept of neighbor from a literal definition to the broader interpretation of anyone who is in need. Frances Perkins was a true Good Samaritan. She worked all of her life to fight poverty and provide for those who were in need.  She didn’t have a lot of money to give away, but she did have passion and a political acumen. She helped her neighbors by striving tirelessly to enact legislation to help workers have decent wages and safe working conditions.

            “I had to do something about the unnecessary hazards of life, unnecessary poverty … the circumstances of the life of the people of my generation was my business, and I ought to do something about it.”–Frances Perkins

 

Posted in Home | Leave a comment

Santa Fe

“If A Door Opens: A Journey with Frances Perkins” will be taking a journey to Santa Fe. I will be performing  at the Teatro Paraguas May 17-19. This is a lovely theatre. I hope if you are in the Santa Fe area you can come see the play. For more information about the theatre visit their website,  teatroparaguas.org.

Posted in Home | 1 Comment

Feedback from Broadway Producer

Recently I had the pleasure of email correspondence with Tom Viertel, a well respected Broadway producer who read my script for If A Door Opens.  He had some positive things to say about my project and encouraged me to keep writing.
Posted in Home | Leave a comment

Frances Perkins: “If A Door Opens” Lubbock Performances January 24-26

My husband Don and I traveled to Lubbock on Tuesday, January 22, 2013 to prepare for three performances hosted by the Texas Democratic Women, South Plains Chapter and co-produced by the Lubbock Community Theatre (LCT). These Lubbock folks know how to put on a show! Lots of kudos goes to the TDW committee: Sue Weninger, chair; Pam Brink, Debie Martin, Zama Norris, Grace Rogers, Tracy Lowrey, Angela Martinez, Mindy Valcarcel and Jan Caffey.

Sue Weninger, chair of production committee

Sue Weninger, chair of production committee

Zama Norris introduced the play each night.

Zama Norris introduced the play each night.

Posted in Home | 1 Comment

Keefe delivers wonderful performance in enlightening tribute Audience learns more about first woman in presidential cabinet

By William Kerns
A-J ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
lubbockonline.com

I am unsure about what I expected from Charlotte Keefe’s 90-minute, one-woman tribute called “If a Door Opens: A Journey with Frances Perkins.”
That is, I’m sure I was expecting a history lesson, as I was unfamiliar with the life of Perkins prior to this week. However, I did not expect this particular history lesson to have been injected with so much life and passion.

Indeed, by the time Keefe recreates memories of conflicts and conversations, stipulations and accusations, patrons know much more about Perkins’ accomplishments as the power standing behind the figurative throne of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Her life has inspired biographies. The Department of Labor headquarters in Washington, D.C., was named the Frances Perkins Building in 1980, and her Washington, D.C., home was in 1991 declared a National Historic Landmark.
But how many really knew her?

Keefe delivers a consistently captivating performance, from beginning to end.
In truth, “If a Door Opens” easily fits the format of a memory play, thanks primarily to the opening scene in which Perkins tells her husband that, by the way, “I resigned today.”
Yet with each pause for effect, each momentary change in countenance, it also becomes obvious that Keefe received excellent guidance from director Bruce Mcintosh.
True, an entire play could be devoted to all that Perkins is credited with accomplishing during her years as the first woman granted a presidential Cabinet post.
Specifically as secretary of labor during Roosevelt’s terms, Perkins enacted:
■ The first minimum-wage law.
■ The 40-hour work week.
■ The Social Security Act.
■ Unemployment insurance.
■ Child labor laws.
■ The National Labor Relations Act.

In fact, it is likely that most would expect this play, being performed in only its second city, to explore only Perkins’ years in office.
Yet Keefe doesn’t see Perkins appointed secretary of labor until Act II.
Not that the play spends undue time revealing Perkins’ own influences, or the extent of what initially made her care so deeply for the American working stiff, man, woman or child.

It would be a mistake to give “If a Door Opens” that much credit.
Before one can accept all that Perkins accomplished while working for the president, Keefe first has to establish the tone, or toughness, expressed by Perkins when working under New York Gov. Al Smith.
She accomplishes this in cleverly effective style.

Keefe has chosen to paint her portrait of Perkins in the style of serialized stories, ending with a simple blackout. Her character reappears moments later at a different time, a different place, although in the same physical place on stage. The process, however simple, demands strong acting and Keefe delivers.
Mind you, life was more cruel in many ways in the United States during the early 20th century.
Perkins’ witnessing the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, which saw trapped workers leaping from windows and ended with more than 100 women killed, sparked her desire to see workers organize.

Afterward, she became secretary of the New York Consumers League and, years later, was appointed by the governor to the New York Industrial Board.
At all times, Keefe’s character makes it clear she will not be a dainty figure piece, that one should expect her to labor for change.
Perkins would not dodge even the smaller fight. Not emphasized is her early decision to change her given name of Fannie to Frances. As early as 1913, she steadfastly insisted on keeping her maiden name after marrying Paul Wilson.

Hinted at during the play is the additional struggle of being sole family breadwinner, and her husband’s hospitalization.
But when Keefe, as both playwright and star, opts to stress Perkins more as a worker and a protector of workers, than as a wife, her reasons are obvious.
Perkins was the first woman to join a presidential Cabinet. But if she failed — more than that, if she failed to be taken seriously — she knew it would be a step back for future qualified women.

Thus, a portion of this play deals with how Perkins chooses to interact with men in Congress, a decision that even involves the manner in which she dresses.
Keefe is sure to earn a laugh each time she concludes that she wore her hat “all day.”
The audiences sees Perkins recall the highs of having approved a 40-hour work week and a minimum-wage of 40 cents per hour, and the lows of being caught up in the Red Scare, her support for Social Security inspiring detractors to call her Pinky Perkins.
Keefe gives no indication of hurt feelings. Rather, an inner strength is revealed as she moves from one project to the next, finally resigning rather than defer to Harry Truman’s perceived chauvinism.

As acted by Keefe, Perkins is more devoted to goals, even as early as 1935’s National Labor Relations Act, than to making friends.
And if she fooled her peers with a motherly impression in the workplace, via that dowdy black dress, she certainly filled the “protective” motherly image when it came to workers of all ages.

Still, arriving almost as bookends are scenes in which she exchanges Congress for home and husband, and her voice alters as much as goals and needs.
“If a Door Opens” is an often fascinating, and always wonderfully acted, theatrical tribute.
Those attending will leave having been both educated and entertained.

To comment on this story:
william.kerns@lubbockonline.com
• 766-8712
glenys.young@lubbockonline.com
• 766-8747

Posted in Critical Reviews | Leave a comment

If a Door Opens: a Journey with Frances Perkins

If A Door Opens: A Journey With Frances Perkins is a theatrical tribute to an extraordinary woman. Frances Perkins is one of the most important women of the 20th Century, but sadly not many people know who she is. Her name should be a household name, but it is not. She worked tirelessly to improve working conditions in America during the early part of the 20th Century and eventually became the first woman Cabinet member under Franklin Roosevelt. As Roosevelt’s Secretary of Labor, she was an architect of New Deal legislation and was responsible for the passage of the Social Security Act. At the time of her death in 1965, Secretary of Labor William Wirtz said, “Every man and woman who works for a living wage, under safe conditions, for reasonable hours, or is protected by unemployment compensation of Social Security is her debtor.”

The play is a history lesson, but according to Willliam Kerns, Arts and Entertainment editor for the Lubbock Avalanche Journal, “I did not expect this particular history lesson to have been injected with so much life and passion.
Indeed, by the time Keefe recreates memories of conflicts and conversations, stipulations and accusations, patrons know much more about Perkins’ accomplishments as the power standing behind the figurative throne of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. “If a Door Opens” is an often fascinating, and always wonderfully acted, theatrical tribute.
 Those attending will leave having been both educated and entertained.” To read the entire review go to http://lubbockonline.com/entertainment/2013-01-26/keefe-delivers-wonderful-performance-enlightening-tribute

Posted in Home | 1 Comment