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reviews Our regular review section features some of the best new books and films. From time to time, you'll also find reviews of important new museum exhibitions and public history sites, and retrospectives on classic works that continue to shape our understanding of the South and its people. Our aim is to explore the rich diversity of southern life. In this issue, we accompany Shannon Ravenel to the world premiere ofGood Ol' Girls, revisit the genesis of the famous Hollins Writers Group, learn the hidden truth behind a moss green coveriet, and travel back to the diamonds of yesteryear—to the early days of baseball's integration. As always, there's a lot more to see along the way. Good 01' Girls A Play from Mojo Productions, in association with Company CaroUna and the University ofNorth CaroUna at Chapel HiU's Department of Communication Studies Performed at the University of North CaroUna at Chapel Hill, 1 8 March—Ii April 1999 Reviewed by Shannon Ravenel, long-time editor for Algonquin Books and New Storiesfrom the South, and former series editor of BestAmerican Short Stories. We (that is we women) think we know what a good oP boy is. The definition involves huntin' dogs, Dodge trucks, seersucker suits—chauvinism sunny side up. But what's a good ol'girli The new revue ofsongs and stories adapted by Paul Ferguson from the works ofMatraca Berg, MarshaU Chapman,Jul McCorkle, and Lee Smith that premiered at the University ofNorth CaroUna in March 1999 answers the question fuUy, deUghtfuUy, and surprisingly. A good ol' girl loves her daddy. A good ol' girl knows that big hair and a big heart do not mean a smaU mind. She'U bring you casseroles and she'ü kül you, too. Her heartis kind, but she speaks her mind. Those of us fortunate enough to have seen it with its original cast left the theater wanting our own tombstones to be chiseled with the words, "She was a good ol' girl." We left humming the tune to "AU I Want Is Everything" (a coUaboration by Berg and Chapman), wishing we could sing "I Got a Late Date widi the Blues" (Chapman), stül a Utde choked up over "Back When We Were Beautiful" (Berg). At intermission, we made Usts of book tides by Lee Smith and JiU McCorkle we hadn't yet read. My Ust (on the back of a deposit sUp) was short since I've read 70 everything they've pubUshed except Smith's OralHistory, from which Paul Ferguson drew an elderly ol' girl's soUloquy caUed "My Roy" ("I knew a good tiling when I saw it and I jumped right on it. . . . Roy could fuck your eyes out"). And I made a note to reread die scene in a Lumberton, North CaroUna, nursing home from McCorkle's Tending to Virginia that was turned into an extraordinarily affecting play-within-a-revue featuring aU seven ofthe good ol' girls. Those seven—played byAmanda Blackburn,Anna Gunn Bowen, TinaMorrisAnderson , JuUe OUver, Andrea PoweU, Katherine Rogers, and CaIUe Warnerwere winningly cast to represent the many sides of the good ol' girl. And, for me, the costuming of the seven to reflect specific traits was especiaUy persuasive. From !Catherine's Converse sneakers and Amanda's strappy sandals to Tina's sensible pumps and Andrea's white cowgirl boots, the good oP girls' characterization by way oftheir footwear was nothing short ofbrilUant. What this revue does so successfuUy is somefhing that should have been aU but impossible. To take bits and pieces from the fiction of two writers and fit them into a scheme that uses humor, drama, and music to offer first, entertainment, second, insight, and finaUy, true emotional impact is an enormous chaUenge. To say that Paul Ferguson met it is to gready understate the case. Good 0G Girls is just plain wonderful theater. It should, if there's any justice in this world, find its way to a national audience. Reviews 7 1 ...


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