Dramatists Guild of America: Ten Questions with Adrienne Kennedy

Dramatists Guild of America

The Adrienne Kennedy Reader (Adrienne Kennedy)What was your most memorable theatrical experience as a child?

In the fourth grade, I had a music teacher named Mrs. Filetti. She had dark curly hair and always wore dark black or brown crepe dresses. She told me she wanted me to try out for the Christmas play. I said I didn’t want to try out. She said, “We will go to the auditorium and I will see if your voice can carry to the back of the auditorium, then I want you to be Mary in the Christmas play.” I was puzzled as to why she wanted me. When I look back, I think it was because I was tiny very pale and spoke softly. I was very fearful kid. In the auditorium, Mrs Filetti asked me to speak from the stage. I spoke. She said, much to my surprise, “That was good, Adrienne. You will be Mary and Lawrence Axelrod will be Joseph. We will make you a costume.” I only remember the scene from the play I had a white sheet and Lawrence and I were standing at the edge of the stage looking down at the baby Jesus and staring at each other. After the play I got to wear the sheet for the rest of the day and many kids came up to me and said I looked beautiful. I sat on a bench in the hallway and so many people talked to me. I was so happy. That had never happened before.

Finally, Ms. Walker, a very stern teacher, came into [the] hall and told me the play was over and I should take off the sheet and go to my homeroom. It was a happy day. To be chosen by Mrs. Filetti over all the girls to be the Virgin Mary is something even today I ponder, and it still gives me pleasure. I was so, so thin, pale, and quiet. To be chosen gave me a special place. The kids at Lafayette Elementary school remembered that I was in the Christmas play.


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