The Book That I'm Going to Write, By Judy Garland
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In 1964, legendary icon Judy Garland was optimistic about the future. It had only been 3 years since a blistering, Oscar-nominated comeback performance in the film “Judgment at Nuremberg”, as well as her greatest concert success live at Carnegie Hall, and now she was hot on the heels of having produced 26 triumphant yet tumultuous hours of variety television for CBS with “The Judy Garland Show”. Following the unceremonious cancellation of her CBS show, Judy was living with then-fianceé Mark Herron in London, making spectacular appearances at the Palladium and wondering what would be her next big move. She decided to pick up an unfinished project that she’d abandoned many years before; A long-gestating opportunity to not only set the record straight about her storied and troubled career and family life, but to also settle old scores through a litany of incendiary recriminations and untold truths about every person who had ever wronged her. Judy Garland had decided to finally finish her memoirs.
Faced with the herculean task of creating a cohesive through-line from the story of her life, friend and dealmaker Irving “Swifty” Lazar directed Judy to put her considerable talents as a raconteur to use and record her thoughts on tape for later dictation to a ghostwriter. The results were less than publishable. Impaired by the addictions that would eventually take her life, Judy’s recordings reveal a side of her psyche that the public would never see so nakedly… A self-professed “angry lady”, broken by decades of abuse by both the press and a Hollywood machine that made her victim to her own circumstances, left penniless by a never-ending parade of grifters who convinced her they had her best interests at heart, and unable to accept the role that addiction had played in her own ability to be a mother to her children. The tapes revealed a woman who was seemingly hurt by every person she ever trusted, all in the name of performing the one trick she could execute better than anybody else: bringing joy to people all over the world through her unparalleled talents, infectious warmth, and indomitable spirit.
Performer Jason Powell brings these spoken words to a live and intimate audience, unadorned with spectacle or artifice, presented as nakedly honest as they escaped from Ms. Garland’s own soul more than fifty years ago. With flickers of the incendiary wit that defined Judy’s personality to all who knew her both on and off stage, it is clear that the impact of this blistering account was intended for public consumption, even if not in the form of the scattered thoughts on those spools of reel-to-reel tape. Judy’s yearning to be heard and understood is not only implicit, it is repeatedly and emphatically demanded by the lady herself.
These words do not paint a complete picture of the largely misunderstood legend, but they do shine a light on some of the private struggles (as well as personal triumphs) of a woman who felt misrepresented along every step of her fabled career. Today, in a quickly-changing atmosphere in which women everywhere are not only demanding to be heard, believed, and respected, but are actually getting the vindication they so rightly deserve, this performance of these spoken words serves as a long-overdue benediction of Judy’s truth, and a celebration of a woman who gave so much of herself to the public and a world that could never truly understand the cost.
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