Steel Magnolias: a story of real woman-power
PowPAC, 13250 Poway Road, Poway
$20 - $22
I went to college in Dallas, which is not really in the South, but is a sort of first cousin. We had our share of Southern Belles on campus, including one of my roommates. One day, she and I were standing in front of the fridge, peering anxiously at the broccoli in the veg drawer.
“I think it’s gone south,” I said, disappointedly.
“You mean west,” she corrected.
“West? No. The expression is ‘gone south,’” I said, amused. (She was biology. I was English. I thought she was being unidiomatic.)
“Well, why in heaven’s name would you say it’s gone south?” she asked, indignantly.
“I dunno. I never thought about it. I suppose because south is down, and down is where Hell is.”
Hmm. That didn’t land so well, I thought, so I added: “Why would you say it’s gone west? What does the west have to do with going bad?”
“Well, I’m sure I don’t know,” she said, in a tone that made it clear: if I was that obtuse, she surely wasn’t going to stoop to explain.
I may not be a Southern Belle, but I knew enough to reply, “Well, bless your little heart!”
And then we both had a good laugh and ordered take-out.
I like Southerners. Their culture remains closer to the land, and it shows in their language, their attitudes, and their expressions. Southerners and farmers are the best poets, because the land gives them so many metaphors — “running around like a chicken with its head cut off.”
I cringe at how often Southerners (and farmers) are portrayed in film, theater, and popular culture as backward bigots. So I came to PowPAC’s production of Steel Magnolias with a bit of trepidation. Who are these westerners playing southerners? Are they gonna act like the sun comes up just to hear them crow?
To my relief, it turned out to be a two-hour breath of fresh air. This story is one of real woman-power, and it was superbly acted and deftly directed. I laughed and cried with those believable Belles, and cheered for the steel that undergirded their petticoats.
And didn’t that just dill my pickle!