WOMEN'S LIB onstage - how?
April 10, 2010 1:42 PM   Subscribe

I am admitting Google defeat and I am also on a deadline. IS there a web page out there that has a list either of significant female PLAYWRIGHTS, or significant feminist PLAYS?

I'm trying to do a brief article on the general theme of women and American theater history, with the sub-theme (so to speak) that after the feminist theater movement, women were freer to write about "women's experience" a bit more. I also want to wind up with "what do women write about today" (if it's not so much about "women's experience" these days, so be it).

However - I am finding that there is both too much and too little information about this issue. On the one hand, I am overwhelmed with information about the feminist theater movement and its specific history, but my sources all seem to concentrate more on the specific machinations of this or that small regional company and how they integrated consciousness-raising rap sessions into their creative process -- the kind of thing which would be helpful if I were doing a dissertation, but it's not quite what I'm looking for when I'm trying to write a 3-page article for high school students.

On the other hand, Wikipedia has a nice list of "women writers by century" or "plays by year", but the lists of "women writers by century" do NOT differentiate between poets, novelists, playwrights, and essayists, so I end up reading through article after article after article only to find "d'oh, she was a poet". Or, I read through play after play onto to go "gah, a guy wrote this" or "argh, this is about horses, it won't work." So I'm not finding what I'm looking for there either.

The kind of ur-site I am looking for is a "history of American feminist playwrights," or "significant feminist plays", with a list of little biographies or lists of plays starting with Rachel Crothers and Susan Glaspell, going through Lillian Hellman and Clare Boothe Luce and on down through Beth Henley and Wendy Wasserstein on to Jane Wagner and Eve Ensler.

DOES such a site exist? Help.
posted by EmpressCallipygos to Writing & Language (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This spreadsheet of women playwrights from this site may help, as could this search result.
posted by Kerasia at 1:56 PM on April 10, 2010

Empress, there's the Cambridge Companion to American Women Playwrights, available as an ebook. Would that help?
posted by angiep at 2:02 PM on April 10, 2010

Response by poster: Actually, kerasia, the links you've posted are an illustration of the PROBLEM I'm having -- the spreadsheet you've linked to is a list of EVERY female playwright EVER, no matter how big or small or (in)significant their career was, or what they wrote about. I want to know how to narrow down the search to ONLY deal with the big names who wrote about feminist issues, rather than wading through every single woman who happened to write a play that got produced off-off-Broadway or got produced once as a command performance for the King of Spain.

I'm ONLY looking for the names that your average guy on the street would go, "okay, yeah, that was a big deal there," so I want to know how to weed out everyone ELSE.

Angie, if you think that the Cambridge companion would fit the description expounded upon above, then great.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:08 PM on April 10, 2010

I found this list of people's favorite feminist playwrights. There must be some significant ones here.
posted by cmchap at 2:08 PM on April 10, 2010

The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize is an annual award for plays by women. The winning plays tend to lean feminist, as well as the finalists.
posted by typewriter at 3:59 PM on April 10, 2010

Here's a pretty good list (scroll down).

Here's another one, though it's only about British playwrights.
posted by Kattullus at 6:38 PM on April 10, 2010

What about seeing if your library has this? It's not a Website, but looks pretty close to what you want.

Seattle Public Library doesn't show it, but King County does...
posted by Gorgik at 8:24 AM on April 11, 2010

Response by poster: Brooklyn's library doesn't have it, Gorgik; I went there looking for books four weeks ago and the four that are currently sitting ten feet to my right are the only four they had. (Dammit -- because that looks EXACTLY like what I'd need.)

suedehead's link looks a BIT more narrowed-down; I think I may have sifted through there earlier, though (and it had the same "we're including every women playwright except for ones that are arguably in 'the canon'" problem), but will look again.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:59 PM on April 11, 2010

Response by poster: Ooh, kattullus' list also could help too. Thanks.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:02 PM on April 11, 2010

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