The recent Time’s Up and #MeToo movements have cast a giant spotlight on the injustices that have been perpetrated against women everywhere, amplifying the voices of the unheard and silenced. My play, LOVE IS BLONDE, a bold and contemporary stage adaptation of the bestselling historical novel Blonde (2000) by Pulitzer Prize Finalist Joyce Carol Oates, intends to focus this spotlight on a particular woman, an American icon, who never got the chance to tell her own truth.
For the first time ever, the conflicting private life of Norma Jeane Baker and public persona of Marilyn Monroe will be brought to life on stage by two different actresses. I wrote LOVE IS BLONDE to offer this powerful presentation of what contributed to her duality, and to add to the thunderous conversation happening now about the treatment of women by imagining the truth Norma Jeane and Marilyn would tell if given the opportunity.
This untold story deserves to play out on the biggest stage in the world and with your help LOVE IS BLONDE will be Broadway-bound.
The first and most critical step in making our Broadway dream a reality is to host an Industry Reading of LOVE IS BLONDE in New York City. We plan to hold the reading in Spring 2019 and have our sights set on the Signature Theatre, the first New York City company to receive the Regional Theater Tony Award®. But this can only happen with the generous support of backers like you who want to help fuel the beginnings of our creative journey to Broadway, and who recognize the larger impact our Norma Jeane/ Marilyn story will have in confronting the realities of women – then and now.
The Industry Reading will involve a semi-staged reading of LOVE IS BLONDE as a complete play. This process will give me a chance to develop the dramaturgy further with the cast. Likewise, it will allow the director to lead the entire cast of actors through a full performance of the script, complete with props and costumes, and backed by our original soundtrack. While Industry Readings are typically closed presentations, reserved for potential producers, investors, and industry people only, I am opening ours up to backers who help fund our IR through this campaign at certain reward levels. It’s a rare and exclusive opportunity to experience the inner workings of the theater world, while being a catalyst for something big.
Once we have a successful Industry Reading under our belt, LOVE IS BLONDE will be ready for a longer run (12 weeks or more) in front of a general audience at an Off-Broadway theater in NYC or for a 4-week run in a theater in another major U.S. city. And from there, we will be... Broadway-bound!
The cost to produce our Industry Reading is $35,000, and this is how we will use the funds pledged to this campaign by awesome backers like you…
Cast & Director – We will have 8 actors performing the complete play for the whole duration of the I.R. and a spirited director who will lead them to the best of their ability
Original Live Soundtrack – Did we mention that the play features an original score, to be played live during the I.R.?
Dramaturgy – Once all the characters are cast, the playwright, working in conjunction with the new actors, will need to fine-tune the script of LOVE IS BLONDE to make sure every single line and beat is perfectly tailored for the stage.
Executive Producer Fee – We will hire a top notch General Manager who will oversee and organize all executive aspects of our I.R.
Marketing & Artistic Production – All our promotional endeavors will need to be fueled with consistent creative and marketing support to guarantee that the artistic power of LOVE IS BLONDE is fully realized.
Theater Rental – Our I.R. will happen over four or five days, comprising two full performances per day plus rehearsals. It will be held at the Signature Theatre or at an Off-Broadway theater.
Joyce Carol Oates is one of America's most prolific writers. She is also my mentor. I was inspired to adapt her acclaimed Monroe-inspired novel for the theater because I wanted to further explore how a damaged girl was transformed into the brightest movie star of all time, and offer my own take on the internal and external forces that played a role in her dual personality and tragic death. That is "the riddle, the curse of Monroe's life" (as The New York Times poignantly described Joyce's work on Marilyn in this article).
On a mission to tell this story, I left my home in Turin, Italy and settled in New York City, where I began to write. Both Norma Jeane and Marilyn’s voices spoke loudly to me, and I simply let them talk, cry, laugh, and shout their truth through me and onto the paper. My play was born.
I secured the official stage rights for LOVE IS BLONDE in Italy and the U.S. in 2014. The Italian version of the play (produced by FONDAZIONE CRT) opened at the Astra Theater in Turin, Italy in Fall 2017 to rave reviews from both critics and audiences, alike. But the greatest endorsement of all came from Joyce, herself, who told the Italian press: "Argia has an intuitive sense of the deeper meanings of Blonde, which I am confident the stage adaptation will illuminate. Our conversations and relationship confirmed my feeling that she, as me, has an innate rapport with the phenomenon of Marilyn Monroe”.
To see what Joyce was so gracious to share with me, click here (exclusive interview alert!).
With the English version of my play now complete, I am ready to bring LOVE IS BLONDE to the biggest stage in the world and tell my version of Norma Jeane and Marilyn’s truth. Join me in amplifying their voices by supporting this campaign.
And if you're curious to know more about the Italian production, simply click here (there are plenty of backstage pictures, too!).
“Argia Coppola’s LOVE IS BLONDE captures Marilyn Monroe’s life in an intriguing and unique way. I admire Ms. Coppola’s ingenuity in creating this piece. A young girl from an abusive background sets her sights on the impossible American dream, caught in the prowling hands of ruthless Hollywood and lusting suitors, while looking for unattainable love.”
– Daryl Roth, Broadway Producer of 7 Pulitzer-winning Plays (Clybourne Park, August: Osage County, Anna in the Tropics, Proof, Wit, How I learned to Drive, Three Tall Women), and Kinky Boots
“LOVE IS BLONDE is a clever entertaining story of Marilyn Monroe like never told before. Ms. Coppola creates a fascinating web between Marilyn and Norma Jeane that not only reveals Marilyn’s struggles, but it is both captivating and intriguing. This play is clearly Broadway bound."
– Richard Roth, Producer (Gettin' The Band Back Together)
“The story is incredibly intriguing... I don't believe there has ever been a thought-provoking stage piece produced about Marilyn, one of America's greatest icons.... The musicals that have thus far been produced about her have been lackluster and uninspiring. […] Ms. Oates book, and your adaptation to the stage, are far more insightful. […] Your piece opened my eyes to many aspects of myself, as communicated through the challenging journey of Ms. Monroe/ Norma Jeane... which, to me, makes the piece worth your pursuing”.
– Michael Milton, Producer (Gentleman's Guide)
Norma and Marilyn are represented as different beings and are played by two different actresses. This is something that’s 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.
Due to her untimely death, Norma never got the chance to speak up. Women seeing this truth unfold on stage today have an entirely different opportunity: they can shout their truth, and reveal their real selves. While amplifying this universal catharsis, LOVE IS BLONDE is not at all about the ideology. It’s about revealing the inner soul – its demons and its indestructible beauty – caged in an alienated body. It’s 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 as much part of Marilyn's incredibly textured and rich life as they are of every woman. And it is, above all, a war journal about the truth.Curious to see the artworks you're going to get with your pledges?
Here's a closer look at some of Raja Khairallah's lovely designs: our official LOVE IS BLONDE playbill, the 3 Marilyn postcards, and the cover for our script.
PLAYWRIGHT OF LOVE IS BLONDE | STAGE ADAPTATION OF BLONDE
ARGIA COPPOLA is an Italian playwright and poet based in New York. Her latest play, Love is Blonde, based on the novel Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates, opened in Italy in fall 2017 to a excellent reception by audience and critics. It's set to run in Milan in Jannuary 2019. Argia’s previous work includes numerous plays that have been produced and published throughout Europe to great acclaim. She has collaborated worldwide with the award-winning Italian production companies Marcido Marcidoris and Famosa Mimosa, and with directors including Gabriele Vacis, Mario Martone, and Irene Papas. Her work has been featured at the Festival of Performing Arts in Algiers, the Greek Festival of Epidauro, and at the INDA festival in Sicily – among many others. Argia’s own production company, Il Cane di Pavlov, was awarded the international development grant “Note & Sipari” by Fondazione CRT of Turin for two years running. She holds a BA in Playwriting and Dramaturgy from D.A.M.S. (School of Arts), an MFA in Drama from the Teatro Stabile in Turin, and a PhD in Drama with a Playwriting concentration from Columbia University. She is a current member of The Dramatist Guild of America. Discover more about her world here.
AUTHOR OF BLONDE
JOYCE CAROL OATES is a five-time Pulitzer Prize nominated novelist, a recipient of the National Book Award, and the author of over forty novels. She has taught at Princeton University since 1978 and became Roger S. Berlind ’52 Professor in the Humanities, Emeritus and Professor of Creative Writing, Emeritus. She has stayed there ever since, while maintaining a reputation as one of America's best writers. Her highly original, fictional account of Marilyn Monroe’s life, Blonde (2001), was a national best-seller, and a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist. She has won several awards over the years, including the National Book Award for Them, and many of her novels have become critically acclaimed best-sellers.
CAMPAIGN COPYWRITER & CREATIVE DIRECTOR | GIANCARLO M. TRAINA is an advertising copywriter hailing from Turin, Italy who has recently relocated to New York City. After exhausting his thirst for legal things at the Law School of Turin and at the Centre For Transnational Legal Studies of London (in partnership with Georgetown Law), he began working as a wordsmith for cultural, fashion and design ventures. With his passion for blending thoughts into a creative flow of words and visuals he has built LOVE IS BLONDE's campaign, website, and social media. You can discover more about him here.
GRAPHIC DESIGNER | RAJA KHAIRALLAH is a Lebanese-Italian illustrator and fashion photographer with a knack for unveiling the introspective nature of all things pop, and the underrated imaginary we live by daily. With her glam-meets-verism approach, she designed our playbill, our Marilyn postcards, and created our smashing new set of pinks. You can peek at her world here.
Other loving members of our team include:
- Margaux Mitterand – Campaign Executive & Video
- Josh Conrad – Campaign Assistant
- Samuel Fleck – Translator (reconciliation of English and Italian scripts)
- Adam Lowder – Video Editor
- Barbara Altissimo – Choreographer at Liberamenteunico
- Reza Fakari – President of St. Francis College New York
- Piero Fassino – Former Italian National Secretary of the Democrats of the Left and Member of the Italy-USA Foundation
- Biagio Fersini – Production Designer
- Paolo Gaudiano – Founder & CEO at Aleria
- Antonella Greco – Italian Professor at Fordham University New York
- Alessandra Goodkin – Director of Vendor Relations at DDC NYC
- Steve Hughes – Owner at Hughes Event Design & Management
- Massimo Lapucci – Secretary General of Fondazione CRT and Chair of EFC
- Giuseppe Lavazza – Entrepreneur
- Jackie Ortiz Igneri – Argia's Mentor
- Frank Igneri – President at Redgrave Electrical Maintenance
- Damiano Possenti – Management Consultant
- Ennio Ranaboldo – President of Martin Bauer Inc.
THANK YOU for taking the time to read about our project!
We hope you're already a bit in love with LOVE IS BLONDE, and that you'll be supporting our campaign to spread the love!
IS MY DONATION TAX-DEDUCTIBLE?
Donations through our crowd-funding campaign are not tax-deductible. However, if you pledge $1,000, $2,500, $5,000 or $10,000 and become an Associate Producer, your investment will be tax-deductible.
WHAT ABOUT THE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH JOYCE?
A FEW MORE EXCITING DETAILS ABOUT OUR LOVE-LY REWARDS...
• What inspired our rewards NAMES?
Each of the names we came up with reflects the steps Norma Jeane took to become the majestic Miss Monroe – from an ordinary girl with a dream to a star so bright that her simple name was enough to brighten up the world. As they say, Rome wasn't built in a day, was it?
• What about our LOVE IS BLONDE TOTE BAG?
The idea behind this gadget is quite simple: we would like you to carry your dreams with you wherever you're going. Your sketchbook, your notebook, an ingenious prototype of a new invention: whatever your dream is, it'll be safe together with ours.
We picked eco-friendly, 100% natural cotton canvas sturdy totes and customized them with our official playbill. Our tote will be yours starting at THE DARK HORSE/ $75 reward – and it will be included in all pledges above $75 together with our 3 Marilyn postcards.
• What does becoming an ASSOCIATE PRODUCER mean?
If you pledge $1,000/ $2,500/ $3,000/ $5,000, you'll be credited as Associate Producer to our Industry Reading.
If you pledge $10,000, you'll be credited as Associate Producer to our Industry Reading and will have your credit extended to the Off-Broadway run when it starts. Plus, you will be entitled to earn a percentage (between 2% and 5%) of the weekly revenue of the Off-Broadway run.
• What's the DINNER WITH ARGIA going to be like?
Among the perks of being a BLONDIE/ $2,000 pledger, we are organizing an intimate dinner with Argia Coppola, the director, and one cast member at San Carlo NYC with a special Marilyn-Loves-Turin menu. It will be an exclusive opportunity to celebrate the playwright’s Italian hometown of Turin (did we mention San Carlo NYC is the best Torinese restaurant in town?), and to discover more about her literary and personal journey towards Broadway.
• What's the digital download of our INDUSTRY READING'S REHEARSAL?
For those who won't attend our Industry Reading through a BOMBSHELL/ $1,000 pledge (or above), we give a chance to enjoy the last (and most important!) rehearsal of the I.R. itself, directly from the comfort of your home! We will film the whole rehearsal and create a video just for you – and it is available as a digital download starting at the PIN-UP/ $250 pledge.
• What's the inspiration behind our LOVE IS BLONDE POSTCARDS?
The illustration of our playbill made Raja Khairallah explore so many incredible ideas (and create so many preliminary studies of Marilyn) that we thought: our pledgers would love to get a glimpse of her creative process! So Raja collected her favorite Marilyns and put them in our special series of LOVE IS BLONDE postcards, just for you.
WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS TO BROADWAY?
With YOUR PLEDGES, we will finance an Industry Reading in Spring 2019. That's the first step to reach Broadway and make our star shine brighter and brighter. As for the others...