You’ve go to climb to the top of Mount Everest
to reach the Valley of the Dolls.
It’s a brutal climb to reach that peak
which so few have seen.
You never knew what was really up there,
but the last thing you expected to find
was the Valley of the Dolls.
You stand there, waiting for
the rush of exhilaration
you though you’d feel–but
it doesn’t come.
You’re too far away to hear the applause
and take your bows.
And there’s no place left to climb.
Fifty years ago, Jacqueline Susann wrote these opening lines in The Valley of the Dolls, what would become one of the most successful books of its time (with over 31 million copies sold, and counting) making Susann a household name (even if many still read her book under the covers in secret) and bestowing her with the honour of being the first author in history to have three consecutive books in the #1 position on the New York Times bestsellers list. Some might remember the Valley of the Dolls best as the cinematic vehicle for a pill and booze soaked cautionary tale of female ambition, fame, fortune and failure. Despite this, fifty years later the story is still relevant, telling us as much about celebrity culture today and it forewarned us then.
You’re got to climb to the top of Mount Everest to see the Valley of the Dolls, and you’re invited to take this journey with Toronto’s very own performance provocateur Keith Cole in a 5-session book club-cum-academic master class. The first 4 sessions take place in a sprawling hotel room. In Session 5, book club attendees gather with audience to watch a screening of the 1967 film directed by Mark Robson, listen to a key note speech by a secret special guest, and receive their “V of the D” diplomas.
This Performance Club 2 provides participants with a survey of a range of theories and opinions about how we engage, understand and re-evaluate, literary works of art from the past. How do we talk about, feel and learn from a work of art that is still celebrated fifty years after its first release? Our lives are increasingly dominated by visual images on screens but what about the act of reading? The act of discussion? The act of listening? The act of offering up opinions? Have we globally lost the inter-personal understanding of the importance of ideas, the circulation of information and the importance of coming together to identify, contextualize and analyze literary works of art?
The Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann refers to many performance and non-performance outlets. Namely popular entertainment and academic forms ranging from fine art, television, Hollywood, cabaret, camp, feminism, fashion, musical theatre, drug culture, power dynamics and gender politics. All of which will be analyzed in this participant lead Performance Club.
In order to reach a greater understanding of how meaning circulates through our diverse and hectic lives Performance Club participants must first come to terms with 4 items of importance:
- reading is crucial
- participation is mandatory
- attendance counts
- opinions matter
There is limited enrolment to attend all 4 sessions. The first eight participants to enrol for all sessions will receive a FREE softcover copy of the book. Each week, there will be a limited number of audited spots to attend a single session. These spots also require registration. These spots are PWYC. Auditors attend single sessions and BYOB (Bring Your Own Book).
EVENT & SCREENING
February 27, 2018
The Commons @ 401 Richmond Street West, Toronto
7:00pm: Keynote by Kristyn Dunnion & Graduation
8:00pm: Screening of The Valley of the Dolls