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Christine St. John in Bette Davis On The Edge © Joanna Degeneres

Christine St. John in Bette Davis On The Edge © Joanna Degeneres

Bette Davis comes to Hastings

glenys-x-jacques051What do the Electric Palace in Hastings, Hollywood legend Bette Davis, and an Ethiopian choreographer, have in common, you might ask? Glenys Jacques (pictured left) explains the connection…

On Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 October The Electric Palace in Hastings Old Town is hosting a Bette Davis weekend with a live performance of Bette Davis On The Edge on Saturday night and a screening of In This, Our Life on the Sunday. The proceeds of the play and film will go to the Meseret Yirga Centre in Ethiopia.

Bette-Davis-On-The-Edge-photo-9-Christine-St-John-1200

Christine St. John © Joanna Degeneres

Saturday night’s performance of Bette Davis On The Edge, is a one-woman play written and performed by Christine St. John. She explained more about the play to me: “In the course of research for the play, I visited the Bette Davis Archival Collection at Boston University where I studied her private diaries, and there were visits to the Motion Academy Library in LA as well. I was surprised by what I learned. Every scene in my play actually happened. This is her story, from the time she arrives in Hollywood, until the night she is waiting to the reviews for Whatever Happened To Baby Jane. This was a make or break moment in her career.”

Christine has performed her play all over the world. In fact, just after the performance at The Electric Palace she is performing it in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as a fundraising event for her friend, Meseret Yirga, Ethiopia’s first woman choreographer.

After the play, I will host a Q&A with Christine St. John.

Bette Davis and Hattie McDaniel. Bette Davis once said of her great friend, “Hattie McDaniel is the greatest actress in America. She keeps you on your toes, she can steal any scene you are in with her!”

Bette Davis with Hattie McDaniel. Bette Davis once said of her great friend, “Hattie McDaniel is the greatest actress in America. She keeps you on your toes, she can steal any scene you are in with her!”

In This, Our Life which is being screened on Sunday 6 October is a lost gem in the Bette Davis film library. It is odd, quirky and above all else, it was considered extremely brave to make. Today’s viewers must remember the era in which it was made – when segregation was the law in the United States. The film tackles the subject of racism in America head-on.

Those were the years when Warner Bros. was known for producing socially relevant film. But when Pearl Harbor was bombed, the film’s young director, John Huston, left the last scenes to the assistant director, and went off to war duty. Once the film was completed, the southern US states threatened to boycott the film because of how it presented “race relations”. In plain English, the southern states did not approve of the story line where a young black man was seen to be intelligent enough to go to law school! There was very nearly a court battle over its release.

However, the war effort took over everyone’s attention completely and the film was released as it was intended, much to the delight of African American audiences who crowned Bette Davis The Queen of Harlem for taking on the role!

Christine and other supporters of Meseret Yirga are now in the process of helping her fulfil her dream of having a community dance centre for low-income kids, HIV kids, and disabled kids. The fundraising drive has been a success story. The project needs £61,710 and now there is only £16,020 to go!

Tickets to see Bette Davis On The Edge will go directly towards the building of the Meseret Yirga Centre. Please plan a double bill weekend at the Electric Palace for a live stage performance of Bette Davis On The Edge Saturday and on Sunday a screening of In This, Our Life.

Fundraising for the Meseret Yirga Centre in Adis Ababa, Ethiopia

Fundraising for the Meseret Yirga Centre in Adis Ababa, Ethiopia

Posted 17:49 Tuesday, Sep 10, 2019 In: Arts News

Also in: Arts News

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