“Mary Lou WIlliams: The Lady That Swings the Band” produced & directed by Carol Bash

“Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band” produced & directed by Carol Bash

Studio Theater in Exile @ HV MoCA presents a documentary film about Mary Lou Williams, the renowned yet unsung jazz genius who fought to create in a world that couldn’t see past her race and her gender.

This award winning film will be presented in the Studio Theater in Exile Black Box at the Hudson Valley Museum of Contemporary Art on Saturday April 23rd at 7pm and on Sunday April 24th at 1pm.  The film will be followed by a talk-back with the producer & director, Carol Bash.

Watch the trailer here.

www.studiotheaterinexile.com and www.hudsonvalleymoca.org

Director’s Statement 

Twenty years ago, I walked into my in-laws home and heard this really fresh piano music playing. I reasoned it must be a new artist. I asked my father-in-law who it was and he replied, “That’s Mary Lou Williams, she’s the greatest female jazz musician ever!” I said to myself, “One of the greats? Why don’t I know her?” Then, I looked at the date of the CD and was shocked to discover that it was around 25 years old! Her sound was hip, even for today’s standards. Very soon after, I went out and bought Zoning and several of her other CDs. I was fascinated by how her playing evolved with each decade. I was intrigued and bothered about why Mary Lou Williams isn’t in the public consciousness like Dizzy, Miles, Bird and Monk. Was it because she was a woman? I filed her in my mind and the spark of curiosity was struck.

Later that year, Linda Dahl’s wonderful book, Morning Glory: A Biography of Mary Lou Williams was released. After reading it, I believed that, as great an artist as Mary Lou Williams was, it was her life that was fully captivating. More precisely, the obstacles that she faced and, in many ways, triumphed over is the reason why I feel her story will appeal to a general audience and must be told.

Since then, two more acclaimed books on Mary Lou Williams have been published: Soul on Soul: The Life and Music of Mary Lou Williams by Tammy Kernodle and Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists and Progressive Politics During World War II by Farah Griffin. Yet, I am so proud that Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band is the first feature documentary on this most talented and allusive jazz giant. – Carol Bash

About Studio Theater in Exile

Studio Theater in Exile is a collective which morphed out of the Newman Theater and Theater in Odd Spaces. Formed in 2018, Studio Theater in Exile shares and builds upon the mission of these previous organizations, and now supersedes them as an official entity. The Newman Theatre, in Pleasantville, NY, ran from 1993 to 2005 and its mission was to “Bring the Arts and Community Together”. Besides mounting established plays, the Newman was known for encouraging and creating original work, including Promised Land, about the Holocaust which began at the Newman and toured from SUNY Purchase to Budapest, Hungary, Memoirs of a Mad Masseuse written by Westchester Playwright Staci Swedeen, and Shedding Light, an Abeles award winner that toured the tribe-state area. After the Newman Theater closed, the executive team ran Theater in Odd Places from 2005-2018 wanting to continue the mission and focus collaborating with others and produce new works presented in unusual venues. And thus Studio Theater in Exile was born. Mara Mills and Jeremy Gratt, cofounders with Marsha Newman of the Newman Theater and partners in Theater in Odd Spaces are the founders of Studio Theater in Exile. Karina Ramsey joined the administrative team in August 2018. Evan Bishop and Katori Walker joined us this year, both as creators and members of the collective.

mission: Studio Theater in Exile collaborates with playwrights and performers to create and develop original work. Studio Theater in Exile is a company without a space that collaborates with its environment. It is an outgrowth of the belief that theater takes place anywhere and can be performed anywhere – in the streets, galleries, libraries, museums, black boxes, backyards, and even on a stage. We have been working with performers and playwrights to develop work that can be performed in any venue. Co-founders, Mara Mills and Jeremy Gratt have worked together, since 1991, to present original work, based on the art in an exhibition, a social justice issue, history, or the spark of an idea. Karina Ramsey joined Studio Theater in Exile in 2018.