Becomes a Woman is one of Mint Theater Company’s most exciting discoveries ever: the World Premiere of an unpublished and unproduced play by Betty Smith, author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Smith’s novel was a best-selling sensation when it was published in 1943, as well as the source for two movie versions and a musical.
Readers of Smith’s semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story may remember that 11-year-old Francie Nolan longed to be a “writer of plays.” Like Francie, Betty Smith’s first love was the theater. Although she never graduated from high school, she ended up pursuing an education at the University of Michigan where she won the Avery Hopwood Prize. Smith’s prize-winning play was called Francie Nolan, after its 19-year-old protagonist, but she ended up changing the title to Becomes a Woman—an apt description of the play’s story.
In Becomes a Woman, Francie is nineteen, living with her family in Brooklyn and working at a five and dime store as a singer at the sheet music counter. Her co-workers describe her as “afraid of her family, afraid of the boss, afraid to make a date. Afraid that something might happen to her. But just you wait! She’s the kind that some smooth-tongued fellow will get hold of someday. When he’s through, she’ll be broken like that.” Which is exactly what happens to Francie, leaving her to pick up the pieces in a shocking display of independence and courage.
Written by Betty Smith
Directed by Britt Berke
Associate Producer: Matthew McVey-Lee
Producing Artistic Director: Jonathan Bank