by Lola Rossi-Meza

Not too many people would ever take a moment to think about Alcoholics Anonymous and wonder, who was the first woman to join? However, that is exactly what Valerie-Jean Hume did. After countless re-writes, she has delivered an award-winning two-act play about Marty Mann, the First Lady of AA.
The “Staged Reading” will be held on Saturday, August 10 at 7 p.m. at The Palm Springs Woman’s Club located at 314 South Cahuilla Road in Palm Springs. Tickets are available at the door or in advance for $10 by calling Zigi Graham at (760) 464-2138. Proceeds benefit the Palm Springs Recovery Center “Michael’s House.”
“Everyone knows about Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, who founded Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935,” said Hume. “But one day it occurred to me, I thought, ‘wait a minute, who was the first woman? That should be equally as important.’ However, as it turns out, hardly anyone knows.” She decided to further investigate her question and learned about a true American heroine, lost in history.
Marty Mann was born to wealth and privilege in Chicago in 1904. She traveled the world, wound up losing everything and found herself living homeless and helpless on a park bench in London, England. After finding her way back to America, she heard about AA and finally joined, with great objection, but despite the obstacles, became sober in 1940. She started the National Council on Alcoholism in 1944 in New York City, where the central office is still located, however, it is now called the NCADD, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency and has over 100 affiliate offices throughout the United States.
“Without Marty Mann, many of the great ladies of our time, wouldn’t have gotten sober. She influenced millions of lives and is a very important part of AA. Being an alcoholic was considered a ‘guy thing’ although there were many women who were alcoholics, they just knew how to hide it better.”
This informative play is also directed by VJ Hume, who plays Marty Mann, Dean Apple as Bill Wilson, and Ron Young as Dr. Bob Smith; they all play multiple characters throughout the performance. She, along with her husband, Ted Pethes, both talented musicians, weaves through the years of Marty Mann’s life with music. “Ted is playing clarinet, and between every scene is a song that reflects the year of the up-coming scene, as well as the spirit of it.”
Nominated for seven awards by the Desert Theatre League, “Lush!” took home trophies for Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Actor, Best Director, and the Bill Groves Best Original Writing Award in 2011.
“Almost every person in America knows someone who is an alcoholic. It may be themselves, it may be a family member or somebody they work with.” In preparation for their performance in August, they recently had the entire “Full Dress Rehearsal” videotaped. This will open many opportunities for the show to be viewed by hundreds of people in rehab centers across the country.
I have seen this brilliantly written and cleverly directed play and highly recommend it. It has some very funny moments, and yet gently points out the seriousness of denial. I have heard the first step is for the individual to admit they need help, however, I know that unless that person surrenders to God, they will not seek help, nor admit they have an addiction. Therefore continuing on the path of that downward spiral and hit “rock bottom”, until they do, if they do, by the Grace of God, and seek help. Pray for your families and friends, I do.
Let’s face it, they don’t call alcohol “spirits” for nothing. And those “spirits” know how to destroy families on many levels. Sadly, alcohol is one of the main causes of divorce in our country today. I would like to add, just because a person has a drink occasionally, does not make them an alcoholic. A person can enjoy a cocktail or two and be responsible. BUT above all, DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!!!! You do have a choice, make the right one. A DUI, Driving Under the Influence, whether from alcohol or drugs, is public record and stays with you forever. MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving may have made a big dent in the nightclub scene, but think about how devastating it would be, to be that “drunk driver“ who changed their lives forever.
Proceeds from this performance benefit “Michael’s House“, nationally recognized for providing effective drug and alcohol rehab for individuals and families suffering from this disease. Mark your calendars and plan to attend, you will be helping raise funds for a very worthy cause, and leave with more understanding and compassion. I know I did. “There is still much to learn about alcoholism and drug addiction.”