Billie Jean King Play SHE IS KING Featured in Incubator Arts Project; Runs 1/10-26
The legendary tennis star and equal rights pioneer Billie Jean King takes center stage as the subject of the new play SHE IS KING - conceived and created by Laryssa Husiak, directed by Katherine Brook - being given its NY premiere with performances January 10-26 at the Incubator Arts Project (inside St. Mark's Church, 131 E. 10 St. in Manhattan) as part of OTHER FORCES 2014, Incubator Arts' annual festival of work from some of independent theater's most innovative artists.
SHE IS KING comes to NY on the heels of the 40th anniversary of Ms. King's renowned victory over Bobby Riggs in the much-lauded tennis match "Battle of the Sexes" in September 1973.
SHE IS KING is a live performance that uses archival footage to reenact three television interviews Billie Jean King did at pivotal moments in her career - at the height of her career in 1973 and just before and after she was outed as a lesbian in 1981. The play captures her big personality as King manages the pressures of unprecedented success as a woman in a field long-dominated by men. The TV appearances that comprise the text of SHE IS KING find King speaking with Barbara Walters, pop singer Toni Tennille and James Day, host of a CUNY-TV cable talk show, "Day at Night."
King's outsized life - both her public and private selves - are magnified even more by the production's use of interactive media via nine old TV screens, as SHE IS KING examines the impact of media on gender, sexuality and celebrity.
Laryssa Husiak portrays Billie Jean King, Louisa Bradshaw plays Walters and Tennille, and Joshua William Gelb plays James Day and Larry King, Billie Jean's husband. SHE IS KING's sound design is by Chris Giarmo; scenic and lighting design is by Josh Smith.
Ms. Husiak is a member of the Obie Award-winning Two-Headed Calf and a founding member of its Dyke Division. Director Katherine Brooks most recently directed Gertrude Stein's PINK MELON JOY at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival and PRELUDE '13, as well as a new interpretation of the Noh play LADY HAN at Incubator Arts Project last year. Louisa Bradshaw performs the solo show SIREN'S HEART (Marilyn/Norma Jean in Purgatory) at Actors Temple. Joshua William Gelb has appeared at Bushwick Starr in LITTLE LORD'S POCHANTAS.
Joining the professional actors in the SHE IS KING company will be a group of middle school students age 11 to 13, who serve as the production's 'run crew' (or 'ball kids'), after concluding workshop training and instruction in a variety of topics relevant to the play, including the history of women's tennis. Citing Billie Jean King's own efforts on behalf of equal rights regardless of gender, race, class, age and sexuality, Ms. Husiak sees youth involvement in the production as an opportunity to demonstrate the importance of equality and social justice for all people, and also notes that it was as a pre-teen that Billie Jean King herself first discovered her own passion for tennis.
SHE IS KING has been developed over the past two years at Dixon Place and Chashama in New York and premiered in June 2013 in Des Moines, Iowa, a recipient of an Iowa Arts Council grant.
The Incubator Arts Project presents the 5th annual Other Forces a festival of work from some of independent theater's most innovative artists. In past years, the Festival has included artists such as Daniel Fish, Julia Jarcho (Obie for Best New American play), The Debate Socity, 31 Down, Half Straddle, Bluemouth Inc. and Object Collection.