McCarthy and the Old Woman by Rita Shelton Deverell


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“Stand Up for what you believe. And it was never any effort for me when I felt I was right to stand up for what I thought and express myself. Instead of killing me it made me stronger. ”
“I almost talked myself into jail.”
………………………………………Florence Bean James, born 1892-died 1988

Now we know that beginning in 1950 Senator Joseph McCarthy charged every progressive person in New York, especially those in the entertainment industry, with contempt of congress. Now we know that from 1952-56 Dalton Trumbo and the Hollywood 10 were charged, fined, jailed, blacklisted, lost their careers and some their lives. Before all of that, in 1948, Florence Bean James was completely ruined by the Washington State Committee on un-American Activities. She escaped to Canada. SPEAK UP! is Florence’s story. We don’t know her very well and we ought to for many reasons. Florence is ours, and her story is a genuine USA-Canada story. Her story is not a historical piece, rather the questions it raises about a shift to the right are as contemporary as today. (appendix 1. Epilogue to Florence’s book, Fists Upon a Star: A Memoir of Love, Theatre, and Escape from McCarthyism, 2013)

Keywords: McCarthyism; cold war; Florence Bean James; theatre; Globe Theatre; Saskatchewan; feminism

Suitable for School Performances: Students age 14+

Year Printed: 2017

Running Time: 80 minutes

Acts: 1

Male Cast: 2
Female Cast: 3

Ideal is a young black woman and an appearing elderly white woman. They both get older and younger in the play.