Glenn Chesnut speaking at the Ashby Stage on February 1, 2014
From the announcement for this event: Glenn F. Chesnut has written a number of important books on the history of Alcoholics Anonymous and the spirituality of the twelve step program. His recent books include The Higher Power of the Twelve-Step Program: For Believers & Non-Believers and Changed by Grace: V. C. Kitchen, the Oxford Group, and A.A. (which is included in Bishop's List of the Fifty Most Important Books tracing A.A.'s history from the last hundred years). He earned his doctorate in Theology and History at Oxford University in England, and was Professor of History and Religious Studies at Indiana University in South Bend for 33 years, where he was one of their most popular teachers. After his retirement, he became Director of the Hindsfoot Foundation, which publishes books on the moral and spiritual dimensions of recovery, and has been devoting his full time to working with alcoholics and addicts. He is also a moderator for the AAHistoryLovers Yahoo Group.
The Ashby Stage in Berkeley, California, a few blocks south of the university campus. Glenn Chesnut spoke at 6 p.m. to an audience of about 150. Jackie Benzinski's latest play was then performed to a sell-out crowd at 8 pm.
Jackie's new play, Our Experience Has Taught Us: A Sensational History of our Twelve Traditions, dramatizes AA's coming of age, from the founding of the first groups in Ohio, New York and Los Angeles to the First International Conference. Powerful and entertaining, this play brings to life the often comical and sometimes tragic experiences of the "flying blind" period of early AA history that led to the adoption of the Twelve Traditions.
A crowd of theater goers gathering outside the Ashby Stage.
Onstage after the play: Jackie Bendzinski on the left, Glenn Chesnut in the middle, and a philosophy student named Jennifer Brown on the right.
Above, a flier for Jackie Bendzinski's play Our Experience Has Taught Us and Glenn Chesnut's talk on February 2, 2014, at the Ashby Stage in Berkeley, California.
Jackie Bendzinski (above, at her desk) has been Projects Coordinator at the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company in San Francisco for the past seven years. This group performs all over the world: at Wesleyan University in Connecticut in February 2014, in San Francisco in early April, at Louisiana Tech University later in April, and in Jerusalem in Israel in June, to give a typical segment of their schedule. Jackie earned her B.A. in Theater, Dance and Performance Studies in 1996 - 2002 at the University of California at Berkeley.
Jackie Bendzinski's previous play, a documentary style drama entitled In Our Own Words: Pioneers of Alcoholics Anonymous, toured in northern and southern California for over two years, and was presented to a standing-room-only audience at a huge international conference in San Antonio in 2010.
The actress in the San Antonio performance of In Oour Own Words who played the role of Jimmy Miller, "the First Lady of Black AA," the first black woman to join AA, in 1948 in South Bend, Indiana. The words she spoke on stage were taken from the transcript of Glenn Chesnut's interview with Jimmy in 1993. The full interview and the details of Jimmy's story of incredible bravery and personal heroism may be read in Chapters 17-20 of Glenn's book, The Factory Owner & the Convict.