Play It, Billy! (2011)
American jazz musician Billy Tipton (1914-1989) was born and raised as Dorothy. As the young girl found it impossible to find work because of her gender, she decided to become a man. Dorothy, now called Billy, became a well known jazz pianist whose charisma attracted many women who remained unaware of his birth sex. Billy gained everything thanks to a secret, but was he also deprived of everything because of it? Shortlisted for the 2011 Lea Award for the best Finnish play of the year.
2 F, 1 M (minimum). Available: FIN, ENG, FRE, EST
A precursor of the events of 1989, as images or sounds.
I step forward, I see, so I can see… I see his chest. And when I see it... I stagger backwards, stagger, I make for the door, sit on the steps outside the trailer. Sit right here.
Oklahoma City, 1921. We see DOROTHY and her father, both wearing pilot helmets. DOROTHY is seven years old.
FATHER takes DOROTHY by the hand and pulls her after him. They walk together along the wing of the airplane. A strong wind blows in their faces. They are laughing and shouting. The plane lands. DOROTHY starts to change her clothes. From the adjacent room we heard the strains of piano music, perhaps the Twelfth Street Rag. DOROTHY plays with her stockings; beside her a ball gown lies in a heap on the floor. DOROTHY’s brother is in the room too; he is a couple of years old and dressed in smart clothes. He is standing next to DOROTHY, still as a doll. The piano music stops.
(from the adjacent room) Ready yet?
Play the Tiger Rag again.
Honey, we’re in a hurry.
But the Tiger Rag always works.
Just this once, then we go.
MOTHER plays. DOROTHY enjoys the music, plays around whilst getting dressed.
[Translated from the Finnish by David Hackston.]
"“Heini Junkkaala’s Play it, Billy! is based on a true story. The tragedy of an extraordinary life story with its beautiful, emotional and funny features comes close to the audience.”"
Suna Vuori, Helsingin Sanomat 24 September 2011
"”Heini Junkkaalas Soita minulle Billy är en välkomponerad, om än aningen för lång, pjäs där den kryptiska frontfiguren bereder en intressant infallsvinkel.”"
”Mannen Dorothy, kvinnan Billy”: Isabella Rothberg, Hufvudstadsbladet 24.9.2011