LOVE IS BLONDE by Argia Coppola is the stage adaptation of the best-selling novel BLONDE by Joyce Carol Oates.
LOVE IS BLONDE is a new, bold, contemporary play (with an original soundtrack) about the lives of “two” women: Norma Jeane Baker and Marilyn Monroe. Norma Jeane was an ordinary girl with an unknown father, an unloving mother, and a big dream to pursue: being an actress. But Norma never had the opportunity to share the truth about what she really wanted: being loved as herself.
LOVE IS BLONDE wants to voice her untold truth, focusing on the story that unfolds within these “two” women: the shy actress, Norma Jeane Baker, and her public persona, Marilyn Monroe. In an original twist, the life of the iconic star plays out on stage as the conflict between these women, played by two different actresses.
HOW DOES THE PLAY IMPACT WOMEN TODAY?
In Coppola’s own words, “I didn’t adapt BLONDE to tell the story of the best-known celebrity of all time, but rather to reveal the injustice perpetrated in Hollywood against a girl who grows into a woman, becomes a star, and is then, probably, a target of assassination.
I wrote the play so we can all understand America’s impact on its most abused icon. What originally struck me about the novel, and inspired my adaptation work, was the timeless relevance of Monroe’s life and tragedy in today’s climate and discourse around women in the entertainment industry, male dominance (and abuse), and the politics of it all”.
Ultimately, LOVE IS BLONDE is the story of a resilient victim turned into a fighter.
Due to her untimely death, Norma never got the chance to tell her truth in her own words. As for women watching this truth unfold on stage today, they have options not available to Norma: they can shout their truth and reveal their true selves.
But while LOVE IS BLONDE amplifies this universal catharsis, it is not at all a play about ideology or exploiting gender politics and the day’s news cycle to attract an audience. It is a story about revealing one’s inner soul – with both its demons and its indestructible beauty – trapped in an alien body. It is about the intimacy and the pain of that lost battle. It’s an elegy, and a prayer, along with the tears and laughter that were part of Marilyn Monroe’s incredibly textured and rich life. And it is, above all, a war journal about the truth.
WHAT MAKES THIS STORY DIFFERENT?
Norma Jeane and Marilyn are represented as different beings and are played by two different actresses. This is something that has never been done on stage and is a fascinating way to expose the conflict between Norma and Marilyn: the private girl versus the movie star in the public eye. Norma creates Marilyn to repair her damaged childhood but is then forced to answer to the male fantasy. Contrary to what pop culture has taught us, Marilyn is not just a creature of Hollywood, but also a product of Norma’s design.
In this recurrent duality that pervades all aspects of the story lies the groundbreaking power of LOVE IS BLONDE. Who forged Marilyn? Who killed Marilyn? And as we try and answer these questions, further doubts arise. Was it Hollywood? Was it Norma Jeane?
Only Norma Jeane/ Marilyn know their truth. And it’s by their speaking to the playwright in her script and, in turn, on stage that the audience (the admirers, the broken-hearted, the curios ones, the morbid ones: everybody and anybody) really hears it unveil.
WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF THE PLAY?
Coppola recalls, “One day Joyce said to me: ‘Marilyn chose you to tell her truth, not vice versa.You are simply a tool, an impressive tool’. I realized that Marilyn had called to her too, and she, like me, could not stop writing. So I followed this emotional force: I left Turin, made New York my home, and adapted Blonde for the stage.
In 2014, I obtained the official stage rights for the U.S. and Italy.
As I wrote, Norma Jeane’s voice spoke to me as well. So I simply let them both talk, cry, laugh, shout their truth inside my body and on paper”.
So which goals did Coppola have in mind when she penned LOVE IS BLONDE? The first was to offer a thought-provoking study of the actress, emphasizing the duality of her being and what is at stake in it. The second was to add to the current conversation about women, by imagining what truth Norma Jeane/ Marilyn would tell if given the opportunity.
WHY DOES THIS STORY NEED A STAGE NOW?
The moment feels just right to renew the telling of this distinctive American epic: the play does not only dramatize Marilyn/ Norma’s inner struggle, but the struggle of every woman in today’s still very unequal, very unfair, very biased America.
There is no other theatrical work that explores Marilyn’s entire life, the mystery of her death, and the duality of her personality.
The play – as work-in-progress – opened in Italy in November 2017 at the Astra Theater of Turin, to rave acclaim of critics and audience, alike. It is set to run in Milan in 2019.
WHAT ARE THE STEPS TOWARDS BROADWAY?
We are launching a crowdfunding campaign with Women You Should Fund on October 18th, 2018. Our goal? Finance an Industry Reading at the Signature Theatre, the first New York City company to receive the Regional Theater Tony Award®, in Spring 2019. That's the first step to reach Broadway and make our star shine brighter and brighter. As for the others...
A few definitions to understand what each step really means...
INDUSTRY READING (I.R.)
It’s a semi-staged reading of LOVE IS BLONDE as a full play, where the director and whole cast of actors deliver a full performance with props, costumes, and soundtrack. As the first public presentation of the play on a stage, an I.R. is usually reserved to potential producers and investors to showcase the material. That’s why attending an I.R. as non-industry people is a rare opportunity to get a first, close glimpse at the theater world. And we already have a theater in mind: the Signature Theatre on 42nd Street, the first New York City company to receive the Regional Theater Tony Award®.
OFF-BROADWAY or REGIONAL THEATER
After a successful I.R., LOVE IS BLONDE will be mature enough and ready as a full show for a longer run in front of the audience. There are two options. First, a 12-week (or longer) run at the Signature Theatre or another Off-Broadway theater in NYC (an Off-Broadway theater usually holds up to 300 seats, and requires advanced marketing campaigns to create the buzz). Second, a 4-week run in a main theater in a major US city.
Few plays and musicals reach (and stay!) on Broadway. LOVE IS BLONDE has been defined Broadway bound indeed. We've got the words. We've got the passion. And Marilyn made it to Broadway today!