Overview of Witness
Witness is a full-length one-actor play that chronicles the incomparable life story of Virginia HIll. The play is structured around her appearance before the historic U.S. Senate Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime, better known at the time as the Kefauver Committee.
The play presents the life story of the woman who would become known as the Queen of the Mob, from her birth in rural Alabama to her death in a Strasburg, Austria forest on a crisp winter's night just over 50 years later. Between these bookends of her life, Hill immersed herself in the workings or organized crime, ultimately and rightfully being christened Queen of the Mob in the United States.
Virginia HIll would become a driving force behind the transformation of Las Vegas into a gambling and entertainment mecca. With her intimate partner, Benjamin Siegel, Virginia was a player when it came to opening the Flamingo Resort & Casino on what today is known as the Vegas Strip.
Author's Notes About Witness
I can think of few other writing projects that have proven more exhausting than this play about the so-called Queen of the Mob, Virginia Hill. On multiple occasions, when I spent a couple hours trying to advance the words on my laptop screen to form a full-fledged script, I found myself so exhausted that I was incapable of any meaningful physical movement for the remainder of the day. My brain was in a similar state of marbelization.
A great deal of this script was written in Las Vegas. Hill played a unique role during the time when what became a gambling mecca was born. Admittedly, with the involvement of Hill and her lover, Benjamin Siegal, the birth was something of a breach.
The paramount challenge of writing about a person who no longer is with us on Earth is working to answer the question of “why was she the way she was?” Of course, that task can be extremely difficult even when an individual is living, and you can ask questions about the matter of why.
Not a great deal has been written about Virginia Hill. What has been committed to history about the Queen of the Mob is pretty much black and white. Most who have chronicled Virginia Hill and her life have done so in a manner that is crisp, definitive, and without much nuance.
Certainly, much of Virginia Hill’s life was akin to a rampaging locomotive bursting forward on a seemingly unalterable set of rails. However, I think I’ve found a little touch of gray in the black and white that largely was the life of Virginia Hill. In the end, it is in the gray bit of her existence that we discover why the black is so black and the white is so white. It is in the touch of gray that we learn Virginia Hill why of how she lived her life.
- Mike Broemmel, February 2023
Mike Broemmel is the author of over three dozen compelling, popular, and award-winning plays. In many of plays, Mike Broemmel has chronicled the lives of other intriguing historical figures like Truman Capote, Hedy Lamarr, Anne Boleyn, Mother Jones, Myrlie Evers, Lori Piestewa, Richard Durham, and Harvey Milk.