Birthday Celebration


The Play


The year was 1926.

Calvin Coolidge was President of the United States.

The decade began with a milestone: the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the

U.S. Constitution, extending the right to vote for women, and changing the face of America’s electorate forever.

And yet, in the small, dusty town of Phoenix, Arizona, a group of active women newspaper employees were denied membership in the state’s branch of the National Press Club. Women bobbed their hair, wore short skirts and demanded equal job opportunities, but it would take another 60 years before all-men and all-women clubs joined forces. But these steadfast newswomen wouldn’t wait; instead building on their past experiences to shape the future, and lay the groundwork for other women’s organizations by establishing the Phoenix Writers Club (PWC). The year was 1926.

In conjunction with Arizona’s 100th birthday in 2012, and to celebrate PWC’s 86th anniversary, members of the club wrote, produced, directed and acted in what was simply titled The Play. It traced the history and growth of PWC from 1926 to the present as it coincided with the history and growth of Arizona.

The cast included: BetteLou Tobin, playwright, director, actress; Eileen Birin, Hank and Marge Elza, Ron Thompson, actors, and Cindi Reiss, poet and then president of PWC. The crew consisted of: Geri Rosato, producer; Allen Ewson, Katherine Washburn, and Jeff Lazar, stage managers; Elaine Mays, publicist; and JoAnn Cleland, pianist.

The celebration began with a lovely sit-down luncheon at Elaine’s Fine Dining, at the Beatitudes Campus, 1610 W. Glendale Ave, Phoenix, on Saturday, May 19, 2012 at noon. The members, their families and friends then walked the short distance to the Life Learning Center where they were joined by Beatitude residents to enjoy The Play. The audience laughed and cried as they reminisced and sang along with the piano intervals while the actors, in vintage costumes, engaged in scenes from 1926, 1931, 1944, 1963, 1994 (when the Club finally opened its door to men), 2000, 2006 and 2012. Approximately 120 people were in attendance.

After The Play, everyone was invited to ‘meet and greet’ the actors and other members of the Phoenix Writers Club in the Bistro. Many members had their books for sale and others mingled with the crowd, enjoying dessert while they shared their writing experiences.

For 86 years the Club has been enriched by published and recognized authors of prose and poetry, newspaper and magazine editors and columnists, English professors and creative writing teachers. For 86 years members have supported, inspired, and encouraged each other through the agony of rejection to the ecstasy of publication, and will continue to do so for future generations of writers.

Eileen Birin