In Rosaletta Curry’s one-woman performance of "The Unremarkable Death of Marilyn Monroe," the audience is invited into Marilyn’s bedroom for her final night, and her own final look at her …
In Rosaletta Curry’s one-woman performance of "The Unremarkable Death of Marilyn Monroe," the audience is invited into Marilyn’s bedroom for her final night, and her own final look at her life.
Curry found the script quite by chance in a London bookshop. She sat down and read it all the way through, drawn to Monroe’s utter vulnerability and openness and humor and just blunt honesty in the play.
The play, written by Elton Townsend Jones, gives Marilyn, who “has become for us a sex-symbol, a confused and misunderstood starlet of the Hollywood system, a magnet for gossip and titillation, an icon of colossal proportions, a warning about the excesses of fame, and much more,” a chance to tell her side of the story.
The American premiere is at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 31 and continues with evening performances April 1-3, with a 2:30 p.m. matinee on Sunday, April 3 at the Chameleon Theatre, 800 W. Park Ave., Port Townsend.
Tickets are $15 or $10 for students, available at the door or through
“What’s really interesting is it’s a very surprising play. It surprised me when I first read it and I think it will surprise the audience,” said Curry.
“There are not that many solo plays written, and it’s hard to find one you can relate to,” said Curry. “It just draws you into this story, and it pinpoints things we can all connect to in her life, movies we know, events we know her for, images, and things like that, but then it tells you the backstory of what was really happening behind those movies, behind those images, the famous iconic white skirt moment, the more difficult, more human reality of what went into creating this image.
“It’s also such a relatable story that I think it’s not a story about a sex goddess or a movie star or this Hollywood idol that we sort of think of her as, but just a real woman who had a lot of issues and a lot of struggles in her life that she had to overcome.
“I connected to that personally. I found myself really relating to this girl, this 'noodle' as she calls herself, on the page, so strongly. I just was so emotionally involved with this character that I thought I have to do this,” Curry said.
Luckily for Curry, 23, a recent graduate of Drama Centre London’s year-long program, the rights for the play were available for the U.S., and a visit home to Jefferson County provided the opportunity to produce the play.
“Connecting with the vibrant local theater scene to do the project has been wonderful and a very warming experience,” said Curry. “That energy is there in London as well but it’s a big industry and it’s wonderful to come home and have these connections. It's such a vibrant place and people have such incredible skills.”
Director Kerry Skalsky, a Cornish College of the Arts faculty member, worked with Curry as Regan in "King Lear."
“I like his style of direction, and he’s a teacher, and an actor as well, so I’m lucky,” said Curry. “One of the reasons I’m so excited to work with him is that we work very fluidly together. So we’ll play off each other. I’ll bring something, he’ll watch me work, then he’ll get ideas from that, push me further. I’ll try those things, he’ll get other ideas – so it’s sort of a back and forth. He often pushes me, helps structure, gives shape from an outside perspective, and really helps me pinpoint the specifics of the script. He’s very good with language.”
Katie Kowalski is handling stage management, and Noah Morningstar is on sound and lighting.
Gia Taylor is doing makeup design, and included in the show is a fabulous blonde wig from Michael Costain at WigMaster Associates on Rhody Drive.
“When you have a crazy idea, it’s good to share it because, chances are, there are people as crazy as you who want to participate and make it happen,” said Curry.
The play takes place in Monroe’s bedroom, created in the intimate space of Chameleon Theater, which has just 32 seats.
“It takes place the hour before her death,” said Curry. “She basically revisits her whole life. And to me it’s this need to actually save herself, to be understood and to get through those difficult things in her past, and find a sense of freedom, and I think that’s what she’s driving through the entire play."
Monroe had drug addictions, substance abuse, doubts about self-image, and the need to be loved, said Curry. “She had a very troubled childhood, a very distant mother, things like that she needed to try and overcome. And then she got into this career that pushed her into this stardom, but it still wasn’t quite fulfilling, not what she needed.”
Monroe’s death has been called a suicide, but Curry said we shouldn’t even mention suicide.
“It’s more like an accidental overdose. She doesn’t know that she’s taking as much as she does. She’s doing it to cope. The playwright leaves it very open for interpretation, but it’s not watching someone commit suicide. We’re watching her actually strive through these problems.
“In some ways, the play is interesting because more disturbing elements get dug up as we go further back into her life, but at the same time she digs them up as a means to work through it, so it’s not just wallowing in grief or pain, it’s like this happened and then she moves through that as a way to interact with the audience.
“The audience is very much a part of this show,” explained Curry. “It’s very, very immersive. They don’t do anything, but they are very much a character. They’re present and she speaks to them directly throughout the play, and she’s aware of them throughout the play. So, their presence is really what instigates this entire story that she tells, and to me, to really get them to understand her true self, the "noodle" as she calls herself.
“She had this intense need for understanding, I think, but she never quite got it, and, as the public, we never really got to hear that side of her because she was sold as the dumb blonde and we didn’t get to see the intelligence, the poet in her.
“She jumped on that because that’s what made her career, but in this story we also see how it started to box her in a bit. And her triumph in pushing through that. She created her own company She was incredibly successful. And her ambition. She was an incredibly ambitious and driven person.
“Something I found incredibly useful was going directly to the source if I could, and there’s this incredible book called "Fragments" that just has her notes, her poems, her notes and photographs, and that’s all it has. So it’s her written journal and it doesn’t have anyone else’s ideas about what she was like. It’s just her talking about herself or her experiences on paper.
“As an actor, that helped me connect with not only how she perceived herself but also just how she sees the world, her thought patterns. Just even the way she scrawled things upside down – and this connects with how a character sees the world."
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