For the last show of its 21st season as a resident company at TheatreWorks, Memphis' Emerald Theatre Company is moving in a new direction and ETC co-founder Den-Nickolas Schaeffer-Smith is excited to try something new. "Other than our cabaret-type shows, this is the closest we've ever come to producing a musical," he says.
inclusIVitY — The Ivy Bottini Story isn't a musical, exactly. The new script was designed to give producing bodies the freedom to choose how they presented the unconventional story about the unconventional life of an artist and activist and her clash with Feminine Mystique author Betty Friedan.
- inclusIVitY — the Ivy Bottini Story
"It's an unconventional structure for a show because the entire script is written in rhyme," Schaeffer-Smith says. The whole thing rhymes from beginning to end. The author structured it as 17 poems or songs, and each company that produces the show can decide how much of it to turn into song and how much to turn into spoken word. I wanted this to be a collaborative effort and, thankfully, I've been able to have a fantastic cast with a lot of knowledge of music. So we have four original compositions in our show." Three other segments have been arranged set to music in the public domain.
"I just fell in love with this script," Schaeffer-Smith says of the LGBTQ activist who co-founded the New York Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) with Feminine Mystique author Betty Friedan. "But Betty thought Ivy was too radical," he adds.
inclusIVitY tells Bottini's story from her early life and conventional marriage through the AIDS quilt movement of the 1980s.