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Plays by American Women: 1900-1930

Plays by American Women: 1900-1930
Your Price: $28.95 CDN
Edited by: Judith E. Barlow
Publisher: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 260
Pub. Date: 2000
ISBN-10: 1557830088
ISBN-13: 9781557830081

About the Book:

In Plays by American Women: 1900-1930 editor and scholar Judith E. Barlow has assembled a unique collection of five fine plays by successful women playwrights, including the first woman playwright to win a Pulitzer Prize:

A Man's World. Or is it? Rachel Crothers wrote this wonderfully provocative and entertaining play about aspiring Greenwich Village artists in 1910. Frank, our leading lady, is emerging as a novelist of renown while raising a small son on her own. She's determined to live life on her own terms, refusing to allow men to impose societal expectations on her personal choices. But what is the price she must pay for her independence? It may be 'a man's world,' but not for long! A Man's World continues to capture the challenge for the disenfranchised – whether by gender, orientation, faith, race, or temperament – forced to sacrifice either herself or her hope of acceptance, even by those she loves. (Premiered in 1910 at Collier's Comedy Theatre on Broadway; Cast: 4 women, 5 men)

Trifles is a one-act drama by Susan Glaspell. On the surface, this short play is a slice-of-life story about a murder investigation in the rural United States. However, it is also a story about the relationships between men and women, husbands and wives, and the often-overlooked "trifles" which can say so much about a person's life. A groundbreaking feminist play, Trifles is a masterful blend of murder mystery and social commentary, thoughtfully examining traditional gender roles in early 20th century American life and illuminating how these ideas are still hauntingly relevant today. (Premiered in 1916 at the Wharf Theatre in Provincetown, Massachusetts; Cast: 2 women, 3 men)

Plumes is a one-act, folk drama by Georgia Douglas Johnson, originally published under the pen name John Temple. Charity's daughter Emeline is seriously ill. A pompous doctor advises her that a $50 operation could save Emeline's life, but that's a devastating amount for her poor family, and besides, Charity doesn't trust the man. She faces the heartbreaking decision of choosing between an expensive cure that might not succeed – or the decent funeral denied her other children, complete with, in her words, "everythin' gran – plumes!" (Produced in 1927 at Chicago's Cube Theatre: Cast: 2 women, 1 man, 1 female off-stage voice)

Machinal is a full-length drama by Sophie Treadwell. For the young woman, a stenographer in the industrial, male-dominated world of the 1920s, life is nothing like she hoped it would be. Restless and unfulfilled in a passionless marriage and unwanted motherhood, she finds her only joy in the form of an illicit love affair. But when reality sets in and she must return to her routine existence, she'll go to any lengths to regain her freedom. Considered a masterpiece of early 20th-century American theatre, the play weaves harrowing courtroom drama and an expressionistic style to chart the journey of a woman driven to murder. (Premiered in 1928 at the Belmont Theatre on Broadway; Cast:

Miss Lulu Bett is a comedy of manners adapted for the stage by Zona Gale, from her novel of the same name. Miss Lulu Bett centers on the beautifully drawn title character, a shy, overworked spinster who spends her life caring for her sister's demanding family. When her brother-in-law's brother Ninian comes to visit and asks her to marry him, it seems her life is about to change. A secret is revealed and Lulu must return home. But once she returns she makes a choice that changes her life forever. (Premiered in 1920 at the Belmont Theatre on Broadway and won the Pulitzer for Drama in 1921; Cast: 5 women, 4 men)

About the Playwright:

Rachel Crothers (1878-1958) was an American playwright and theatre director whose works reflected the position of women in American society more accurately than those of any other dramatist of her time. For three decades, she maintained the extraordinary average of one Broadway play a year, the majority of them popular and critical successes. Her accomplishment was made the more remarkable by the fact that she cast, produced, and directed nearly all her plays herself.

Susan Keating Glaspell (1876-1948) was a Pulitzer prize-winning playwright, actress, journalist, novelist. She is also known for her role in establishing the Provincetown Players, the first modern American theater company that also introduced the plays of Eugene O'Neill. She has been heralded as America's first important 20th century female playwright.

Georgia Douglas Johnson (1880-1966) was an African-American poet, one of the earliest African-American female playwrights, and an important participant in the Harlem Renaissance. She was a prolific writer of many poems and more than 28 plays, but few were ever published or produced because of her gender and race, and most have been lost.

Sophie Treadwell (1885-1970) was a prolific and successful playwright and a campaigning journalist in America between the wars. But Machinal is the one work for which she is known today. Its plot was pulled from headlines when she was assigned to cover the trial of Ruth Snyder, a Long Island housewife who with her lover, Judd Gray, murdered her husband and died in the electric chair at Sing Sing.

Zona Gale (1874-1938) was an American novelist, short story writer, and playwright. She was only the third dramatist to win the Pulitzer, and the first woman to do so. She was active in progressive causes and in the interest of women's suffrage – and a full-time successful writer whose work is now, unjustly, almost unknown outside her native state of Wisconsin. She wrote a volume of poetry, eleven novels, and seven plays. Miss Lulu Bett, adapted from her novel of the same name, was a 1920 Broadway hit, and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1921.

Judith E. Barlow is Professor Emeritus of English and Women's Studies at the University at Albany-SUNY. She is the editor of Plays By American Women 1900-1930 and Women Writers of the Provincetown Players, as well as numerous essays on American Drama. The prestigious Judith Barlow Prize is a student award given annually for an original one-act play that has been inspired by the work of a historic woman playwright.

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