Award-winning play focuses on family
An inevitable fact of life is that many women are faced with the unpleasant task of deciding how to distribute assets, property and belongings of their parents after they’ve passed away. It often brings out the best and the worst of family relationships, as preparing for the inevitable is terrifying for every member of the family and the timing is never convenient.
As difficult as this conversation is for families to have, it’s one that cannot be avoided. Local writer Isobel McQuiston tackles the subject in her award-winning one-act play “Pearl’s Girls,” premiering at 5 p.m. Oct. 25 in the Anthony Chapel at Garvan Woodland Gardens.
McQuiston began her professional writing career 60 years ago while she was director of public relations for two colleges and a major hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She volunteered her writing skills to several nonprofit organizations in Iowa before moving to Colorado with her husband, Ed, to enjoy their retirement in the mountains.
“My husband was my best editor,” she said. “I married a creative man that made me happy for the rest of his life — sometimes you have to wait for those things.”
Since moving to Hot Springs to be closer to their daughter, her husband passed away and, to fill the void, she did what she had always done — kept writing.
“I facilitated a writing group at Casa Bella for three years; this was an exploratory group. Through the group I met this lovely young lady who had recently retired as a colonel from the Air Force … we talked about different writing and I handed her this play that I hadn’t done anything with in 15 years. She read it and came back and said, ‘I want to play you,’ so, all we had to do was find three more women,” McQuiston said.
McQuiston had the idea for the play in her head for many years and in the year 2000 entered “Pearl’s Girls” into the New Voices Colorado One-Act Play Contest — and won. The play was performed at the historic Jones Theater in Westcliffe, Colo.
When more members of her Hot Springs networking group stepped forward with interest in being involved in the play, she knew her dream to see it on stage again had come true.
“The cast are wonderful,” she noted. “I could picture my sisters and I could picture this and that; it’s very personal — but nobody knows that, except for my cast because I’ve told them what their different personalities are, and we all feel that it’s a topic that women should be prepared to handle before it’s too late. I hand-picked these people for the cast but I had no idea they would generate the en- thusiasm and the camaraderie — it’s just like one big fat family.”
The cast includes Betty Johann as Marian, Doreen Wilson as Hannah, Sharon Turrentine as Rita, Jodi Tooke as Eve, and Lynn Pelligrino, who has a secret part in the play that will sure- ly shock the audience.
“My mother was Pearl, and my sisters and I often referred to ourselves as ‘Pearl’s Girls,’” said McQuiston in explanation of the play’s title. “I was the youngest and my three sisters were all several years older.”
In the play, four mature daughters have gathered in the family home to discuss and decide the distribution of the home and it’s contents.
McQuiston designed this play to have just one act and few characters to provide Hot Springs with something new and unique. “You don’t have to go to a three-act play; you can go have lunch, see a 30-minute routine and go home,” she added.
Admission to the play is free and a second performance will be held Nov. 15 at a fundraiser for the Elk’s Lodge.