Watch the First Scene Reading of BELLE BREZING:
NARRATOR – Sean Ballantyne
Belle – Becky Shrimpton
Miss Flora – Michelle Lecky
Gil – Ryan Anning
Lacey – Mandy Mclean
Get to know writer Margaret Carlyle Price:
1.) What is my script about?
Somewhere between a paperboy’s first cup of chicory coffee and the memories of the Madam who inspired Belle Watling of Gone With the Wind, there lies a story of sex, secrets and spiritual redemption. Interweaving portals to the past with the magic tricks of a spirit called back to his lover’s deathbed, BELLE BREZING is a haunting love story about a loyal paperboy on a high-stakes mission: To guide his former lover to remember the secret that forged her rise to fame but closed her heart to love. The screenplay focuses on this turn of the century scandalous madam who over-powers men of political fame and fortune, while keeping secret her ambiguous beauty. As her house at 59 Megowan Street rises to international prominence, she remains untouchable by the law or pulpit – a woman of influence, secrets and ambiguous beauty whose shadowed past belies her power. The screenplay illumines one of the South’s most charismatic, scandalous and powerful Madams – Belle Brezing, She was a magnetic business woman who brought herself out of poverty and an emotionally and physically painful early childhood. Abused by an alcoholic mother, raped by a pedophile when she was fourteen and accused of murdering her lover at sixteen, Belle Brezing gave birth to an illegitimate little girl (Daisy May) before spending Christmas eve at age nineteen in a house of ill repute. Fate or choice charted her dynamic rise to power. When she died, both the New York Times and Life Magazine ran Brezing’s obituary on the front page.
2.) Why should this script be made into a movie?
Shedding light on the connection between a wounded past and a life lived in quiet desperation, the screenplay exposes the scandals and secrets of this dynamic woman whose life speaks to timely issues in the arena of child abuse, prostitution and sex trafficking.
Also, consider the following reasons for “why” a modern audience should care about Belle Brezing?
WHY CARE ABOUT BELLE BREZING?
– QUINTESSENTIAL BUSINESS WOMAN at the turn of the century; a successful entrepreneur. She built a lavish “resort” called by the NY Times the “most orderly of disorderly houses” and her classy clients included a “Who’s Who” among prominent men of the day. Horse owners, million-dollar newspaper publishers, politicians, governors and possibly a few “Crown Princes” from Europe. She knew how to entertain in a style comparable to the pleasure houses in Paris.
– FAMOUS MADAM: Her obituary appeared on the cover of the NY Times and Time Magazine. Inspired the character Belle Watling in GONE WITH THE WIND.
– CONNECTION BETWEEN THE “INVISIBLE CHILD” AND YOUNG WOMEN LIVING ON THE STREETS (prostitutes and/or sex traffic victims.)
– REMINDS US OF OUR OWN HUMANITY: She awakens us to the power of the indomitable human spirit – the power to rise above circumstances of birth (poverty, violence, discrimination) and conquer.
– COMPASSION: Despite being an out-cast, Belle Brezing lived her life with compassion for those in need – specifically orphan children, men with troubled pasts (alcoholics, poor, etc.) and young women who found their way to her house.
– PASSION: Belle is a striking example of a woman who lived her life fearlessly, with great passion. She rose above her circumstances through sheer ingenuity, intelligence and a natural charisma.
– FORGIVENESS: Despite being raped by a pedophile, giving birth to an illegitimate child (with severe challenges), being accused of the murder of her sixteen year old lover and being shunned by the southern “elite”, Belle Brezing forgave all who had hurt her. Through a deep faith she was able to find a way out of her past and through forgiveness, ultimately found spiritual redemption. On her mother’s gravestone she had these words inscribed (which perhaps speak more to her own life than Sarah Brezing’s): “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
– RELEVANCE TO CURRENT SOCIAL ISSUES: Sex trafficking in Kentucky (and elsewhere) is a highly volatile, tragic and critical issue; a recent federal case brought to light the wide extent of young women being trafficked into three southern states. Although Belle was a prostitute (and there are important differences between prostitutes and women trafficked) the core issue is the same: What are the circumstances that allow or force young women into these lives? Ironically, a fire in Belle’s life that cost the lives of three young women was tragically mirrored in a similar fire in the third floor attic of 59 Megowan Street (several years after Belle’s death). This fire also took the lives of three young women, probably prostitutes.
3.) How long have you been writing?
I live a magical life – for I have been gifted the soul-stories of strangers since I was a child. I grew up wearing red cowgirl boots, catching crawdads in Elkhorn Creek; my southern roots with roots cut deep in the coal-seamed Appalachian mountains of Eastern Kentucky. I wrote my first story (“Ponies, Picnics and Ghosts”) at age six.
4.) What movie have you seen the most in your life?
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
5.) What artists would you like to work with?
I’m loyal to Kentucky artists so Jennifer Lawrence, Johnny Depp and George Clooney, Ashley Judd and Laura Bell Bundy are at the top of my “wish list”.
6.) The number of stories/scripts I’ve written?
I’m a storyteller; and sometimes the stories shape themselves into novels, sometimes screenplays or stage-plays (or a musical) … or poetry. I’ve written five novels. (Four published) One sitting on my shelves – waiting for the magic to happen. I’ve written 9 screenplays and about a zillion rewrites of those scripts. In the rather daunting stack behind the door to my “writings” there are also five stage-plays , some Law Journal articles, and a poem “Resilience” – which won serendipitously second place in Horticulture Magazine’s Poetry Contest!
7. ) Where would you like to be in five years?
On the set of TEARS OF THE SILVER LIONS, being filmed on location in Copenhagen, Denmark OR back-stage for a Broadway (NY) production of my stage-play, BELLE BREZING
8.) Writing process?
I wake up early and take my dog Gavin for a run in the country. And while he runs, I walk and LISTEN. Borrowing from Charles Dickens, I hope that the characters will “visit me”. I imagine the scenes, play-out the action, visualize the paths the characters will follow. I never sit down and actually write – the “writing” comes after the walk and then I’m simply “remembering” what came earlier. Writing is, of course, about re-writing. And after the initial exhilarating rush of thoughts, I often find a quiet place apart from the “noise” of Life (in my car, in a garden or in a Woods) and write (with pencil or pen) on whatever happens to be within easy reach. Sometimes drafts appear on Starbucks paper napkins and then the hardest part is not only finding the “napkin” but also deciphering my handwriting.
9.) Passionate about?
As an attorney who worked in the arena of Child Advocacy, my scripts/stories often speak to the power of those willing to be a force of light for those without a voice. Human trafficking and animal rights are also areas that hold my “heartache”.
10.) What influenced me to enter WildSound?
I am grateful to a friend, Holly Arnold, who told me about WildSound. I also liked the polite, gracious manner in which those behind WildSound responded to my initial emails. And since I once lived in Banff – I hold a special place in my “heart” for all things Canadian.
As a mother of three daughters, I rarely give advice unless I can look straight into the eyes of the person seeking my thoughts. But here goes: I’m a great believer that (as Sandra Choquette suggests) it’s important not to give anyone “the power to decide your dreams.” Don’t give anyone the power to talk you out of your heart’s desire. And trust to a Higher Power to guide you in your life’s journey. You’re not alone; you travel in the company of wise and wonderful “Angels” (some disguised as faithful chocolate labs or white-faced golden retrievers.)
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WATCH past 1st Scene Festival readings: