THE STORY: Trapped in a life that can lead nowhere, Billie Jean has dropped out of school and secretly taken a job as a dancer in a local bar, her ultimate goal being to become a ballet dancer. But her ambitions bring her into conflict with her envious sisters, both of whom have been locked into dreary marriages too early, and her mother, who has given up on her own children and now lavishes her care and affection on her “foster daughters” —industrious girls to whom she has transferred her own frustrated hopes. Billie Jean must fight a multiplicity of prejudices—family, sex, color, class and economic—to win an education and forge her own identity. But with her grandmother’s strength and trust to embolden her, Billie Jean breaks free, establishing at last a tenuous but hopeful relationship with her mother and taking the first sure steps toward a life that will, at least, be of her own making.
Winner of the Drama Desk Award. First produced by the Henry Street Settlement’s New Federal Theatre, and then a long-run success at Off-Broadway’s Theatre de Lys, this eloquent and affecting play tells its story of a young girl’s struggle to find a better life with rare honesty, revealing insights and a fresh, disarming humor. “…a skillfully drawn domestic drama, moving in its simplicity…an inspirational play to truly exceptional quality.” —Variety. “…a forceful and important new voice.” —NY Post. “…Miss Franklin has a compelling sense of language, a nice way with humor, and a dramatic vitality that demands an emotional response.” —Cue Magazine.