Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mabel Dodge Luhan's 132nd Birthday Celebration

You may have seen the earlier posting about the festivities planned to celebrate Mabel Dodge Luhan's birthday. The evening event, scheduled between 6 and 8 p.m., began with a twenty-minute dialog between “Mabel”, played by Leslie Harrell Dillen* and Lois Palken Rudnick**, Mabel's biographer.

Many of you indicated you would have liked to attend this event but couldn't, so I thought you might enjoy experiencing it vicariously through photos.

On February 26, 2011 preparations for Mabel's birthday feast began early in the day.
Pamela Martinez  and Chef Jane Garrett

By 5:45 p.m. the classroom filled with greetings and conversation

and just after 6:00, acting as emcee, I introduced Mabel (played by Leslie Dillen) and Mabel's biographer (played by Lois Rudnick).

Lois Rudnick (right) and Leslie Harrell Dillen (left

Warning the audience about the adult content that would follow, Lois advised parents to remove children from the room, or at least cover their ears. She then gave a lovely overview of the twists and turns of Mabel's complex life.

Mabel (Leslie) then regaled the adults (and a baby) with a reading from her article "Change of Life". Ahead of her time, Mabel penned this piece on menopause in 1938--pretty daring for the time. She opined that women's lives rather than being over, would now be more full and intense than ever. Freed from the child bearing period, the fire burned more fiercely in women at this stage, and Mabel urged them to kindle the inner flame and shed their light with its "highly vibrating influence" on their men.

After a lively and informative question and answer period,  the evening's participants moved to the main house for

a booksigning of the newly released Mabel Dodge Luhan in Her Own Words
Karen Young inscribing book

and fancy hors d'oeuvres topped off with a serving of chocolate raspberry birthday cake (far right in background) in Mabel's honor.

It was a great evening, done Mabel style,  and we all agreed

                                                       she would have loved it!

Adios for now,

All photos courtesy of Mabel Dodge Luhan House's photo chronicler Noreen Perrin

* Leslie Harrell Dillen is an award-winning actor and playwright who wrote and performed “The Passions of Mabel Dodge Luhan." Her plays have been produced in Massachusetts, New York, California and Washington. Leslie has also written and performed five solo shows which she presented on stages throughout the U.S and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland and at the New York Fringe Festival. Her new play, "2 Wives in India," which runs through April 3rd, opened yesterday (Friday, March 18th) at the Santa Fe Playhouse.

**  Lois Palken Rudnick chaired the American Studies Department at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, for 26 years. She has lectured locally, nationally and internationally on modern American culture. Lois retired in 2009 and now lives in Santa Fe. Besides her biography Mabel Dodge Luhan: New Women, New Worlds, she has written Utopian Vistas: The Mabel Dodge Luhan House and the American Counterculture and most recently Cady Wells and Southwestern Modernism.