Revised Belle Brezing Play to Be Read

Contact: Ralph Derickson

Photo of Margaret Carlyle Price
Margaret Carlyle Price

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The performance is co-sponsored by the UK Discovery Seminar Program and the UK Theatre Department. The play will be studied in a Discovery Seminar class , “ Main Street Attractions: A History of Theatre and Film in Lexington, Kentucky,” taught by Russell Couch, a graduate student in the Department of Educational Counseling and Psychology in the UK College of Education.

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 13, 2004) -- “Belle Brezing,” a play about Lexington’s most famous brothel madam written by University of Kentucky College of Law alumna Margaret Carlyle Price, will have a free public reading at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24, at the Guignol Theatre in the UK College of Fine Arts Building.

It is widely considered that Brezing was the model for the character Belle Watling in Margaret Mitchell’s book “Gone with the Wind.”

The reading, directed by UK theater senior Lauren Argo of Cynthiana, is free and open to the public. An ensemble cast comprises UK theater actors and members of the Lexington community, including the playwright’s 7-year-old daughter, Katie Swim, who portrays Brezing as a small child. The part of the adult Brezing will be read by Margo Buchanan, a visiting assistant professor in the UK Theatre Department.

“Belle Brezing” is a re-write of an earlier play titled “ 59 Megowan Street,” which refers to the address of the famous Lexington brothel. The house at that location, which is now Eastern Avenue, was torn down many years ago.

“The re-write of the play is a little lighter and a little shorter,” said Price, a theater graduate of Northwestern University who earned a law degree at UK in 1980. “The play brings to life the story of a dynamic southern woman who brought herself out of poverty and an emotionally and physically painful early childhood,” Price said.

“The play also sheds light on the connection of wounded childhoods and lives lived in quiet desperation,” she said.

In the play, Brezing travels back to the past with the spirit of her lover, Billy Mabon, bringing new perspective to her childhood and her adult life as a madam.

Price said her play, which was first presented at Lexington’s Opera House in 1986 and at the Spoletto Festival in Charleston, S.C., in 1987, has been “optioned” for a film by movie studio Fourteen Hands Productions in Los Angeles.

The owners of the production company, Diane Carneal and Randy Pastor, will attend the Guignol Theatre reading of the play’s rewrite.

The performance is co-sponsored by the UK Discovery Seminar Program and the UK Theatre Department. The play will be studied in a Discovery Seminar class , “ Main Street Attractions: A History of Theatre and Film in Lexington, Kentucky,” taught by Russell Couch, a graduate student in the Department of Educational Counseling and Psychology in the UK College of Education.

Price said the UK Theatre Department also wants to present artifacts from Belle Brezing’s life, many of which might have been acquired by persons who attended an auction at the old Belle Brezing home many years ago.

Anyone who has a Belle Brezing artifact and would permit its display in the John Tuska Gallery in the College of Fine Arts may contact Lynn Hiler, (859) 257- 6894.

Award-winning screenwriter Price recently had a staged reading of her play, “Looking for Mrs. Santa Claus,” in San Francisco. Her screenplay, “The Wonder Five,” about the 1928 Carr Creek basketball team also has been optioned by Alexander Rose Productions in Los Angeles.


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