A message sent from Cheryl Moch, writer of Cinderella the Real True Story, read out as part of the Alternative Pantos evening by Gillian Hanna, December 14th, 2013
I am so sorry that I cannot be there with you tonight for this wonderful event—on behalf of my writing partner Holly Gewandter and myself—I’d like to thank all of you who have been working so hard to make this evening and Unfinished Histories possible. My thanks to Jessica Higgs for finding me hidden away in Brooklyn NY and arranging my participation—or rather the participation of my play Cinderella—The Real True Story. And thanks to Lucie Regan for all you’ve done! I also want to thank everyone who came tonight who were involved in the original Drill Hall production back then—I’d name you all but I don’t who is there!
And my deep thanks and gratitude to my dear friend of many many years, Gillian Hanna, not only for delivering this message but also for bringing the play to the attention of producer Julie Parker at the Drill Hall all those years ago. Without Gillian, Cinderella would have been lost to the mists of lesbian theatre history, a memory only to those who were present for Lois Weaver’s fine 1985 production at New York’s WOW Café.
But my deepest thanks goes to all of you who have gathered there at Ovalhouse —I don’t know most of you but I do know that if you were around in those years—in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s –you are probably among the brave queers, queens, sissies, dykes, and lezzies who risked coming out way back then—at work, at school, in your family, on the street. Back then, coming out wasn’t easy or popular or fun—sometimes it wasn’t even safe. But you did it with grace and with courage, from the quietest introverts to the most flamboyant among us– and in doing so, you changed the world.
Back then, we gathered in pioneering theatres like the Oval and the Drill Hall and WOW where we found our queer and crazy dreams represented on the stage. We gathered together in the dark and what we saw at these venues nurtured and inspired us, at a time when society reviled us, religions condemned us, the law criminalized our behavior –and the tabloids mocked us.
Back in the 1960’s when I first thought of kissing a girl (and that girl might be there among you tonight) a simple act of love was a crime—an arrestable offence! It could get you thrown into jail or sent to a mental hospital where untold thousands of people like us were victims of electric shock. When I first came out to my parents, my own mother was furious and disgusted by me. Eventually I wrote Cinderella and in my fantasy world the parent is an all-powerful King* who– by the end of the play–for the sake of his daughter and her love for Cinderella– changes the laws so that “love ran like streams throughout the kingdom!” Talk about wish fulfilment! My partner Holly’s wish was for marriage, real sanctified legal marriage. She wrote, in the final song “we’ll live as wife and wife!” It was a punch line. And a dream. Holly’s married now, to her partner of nearly 35 years—and they’ve raised a beautiful daughter together.
In my play, a cleaning obsessed serving girl and a spoiled brat princess—two total innocents—helped to lead a revolution. And so did all of you. And you know what? We won!
And to celebrate this rising tide of lbgt rights and marriage equality, Cinderella has recently been transformed into a work of musical theatre—soon debuting in New York … I hope that you’ll have a chance to see it soon.
*played by Lisa Kron in New York and by Gillian Hanna in London