After years of teaching and making art, Phyllis Yes went about writing her first play, "Good Morning, Miss America," a story about a woman caring for her aging parents from afar while quarreling with her sibling about how to care for them.
She was thrilled when it was staged at CoHo Theater.
She was tickled when a director, Katie O'Regan, put on the production in an Off-Broadway theater, Theater 80 St. Marks.
She was delighted to watch "Good Morning, Miss America" produced not only in New York City but also in Iowa, along with staged readings in Minnesota and Maryland.
O'Regan is working on making "Good Morning, Miss America" into a movie, and it could star Ed Asner as the stepfather, June Squibb as the mother, O'Regan as "Jane" (Yes' character patterned after herself), and Kathryn "Kate" Asner, Ed's daughter, as Jane's sister.
It is in the development and financing stages — O'Regan has started a funding campaign, including on her website, www.sacrednoisesociety.org — and goals to start filming in October in Los Angeles and Pasadena, California, and be done by the end of 2021 may or may not be met.
One step at a time — Yes is working on the screenplay and it'll be read July 24 in Caledonia, Minnesota, by Asner and others.
"Yes, it's got a new life," she said.
"This is a small independent movie, and the biggest expenses will be for actors."
Yes has been talking with some foundations about helping out with financing. She also might try establishing a crowdfunding account.
All the excitement happens just as Yes celebrated a milestone, turning 80 May 15.
Yes moved west from Austin, Minnesota (the home of Spam), in 1973. She taught at Western Oregon and Oregon State universities and then moved to Portland in 1978 and taught painting and drawing at Lewis & Clark College for 26 years. She also served as chair of the art department and dean of arts and humanities on Palatine Hill.
Having taken students to New York several times, she saw different plays every week. It led to her writing a play called "Guerrilla Girls," but "I didn't know what to do with it."
Yes showed her art in about 140 exhibits. One of her more well-known pieces was "PorShe," a 1967 Porsche 911S proudly painted with an airbrush and hand-adorned lace rosettes and silver-based paints to display her feminism on an athletic field at Lewis & Clark College.
She shipped it to New York for an art opening and then drove it back as a traveling exhibit "and had a wonderful time." Eventually she sold the car to a man who presented it at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance at Carmel-By-The-Sea, California, where it won a people's choice award.
Now, she has added to her career highlights with "Good Morning, Miss America."
The play is "very much about love," Yes said. And, she hopes the movie project comes to fruition.
"It blows my mind. I never dreamed that this would happen. I feel like it was all meant to be, coincidences," she said. "I met Katie through (alma mater) Luther College. She said, 'Send me the script.'" And, the story of how it ended up in New York City and elsewhere took shape.
"(O'Regan) sent Ed Asner the script, and he loved it, his daughter loved it. It's going to happen," Yes said.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.