Suggestions for Contemporary Plays Featuring Female Roles
December 13, 2015 7:19 AM   Subscribe

My wife is a theater major who is in an upcoming prestigious national scholarship competition and needs material to mine.

Right now, she's at the "read everything" stage, and has asked for good contemporary plays to read with strong females roles. She's been reading a lot of Sam Shepard, Michael Weller (her favorite), and an assortment of titles offered up by her professors ("My Night With Reg" has been humorously-NSFW-cover down on the coffee table for a week or so). Any suggestions?
posted by jferngler to Writing & Language (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
August: Osage County
Top Girls
The Heidi Chronicles
Sordid Lives
Agnes of God
How I Learned to Drive
The Mai

Man, there are so, so many...these are just ones I've worked on in the past couple of years in one way or another.
posted by xingcat at 7:23 AM on December 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

My sister just played the lead in 'Other Desert Cities'. Definitely a lot to chew on in that role.
posted by tingting at 7:30 AM on December 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

I don't know if they're recent enough to be considered contemporary, but the plays of Jane Martin (a pseudonym for a never-revealed playwright who may or may not be Jon Jory) are great for interesting female charcters. I particularly like Keely and Du and the monologues of Talking With... (those make great audition pieces as well).
posted by cpatterson at 7:36 AM on December 13, 2015

Has she read through the The Killroys list?
posted by stray at 7:53 AM on December 13, 2015

Super contemporary, Waitress, moving to Broadway from ART in Cambridge, original music and lyrics by 5-time Grammy® nominee Sara Bareilles (“Brave,” “Love Song”), a book by acclaimed screenwriter Jessie Nelson (I Am Sam) and direction by Tony Award® winner Diane Paulus (Pippin, Finding Neverland).
posted by kinetic at 7:55 AM on December 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

How "contemporary" are we talking here? Because it feels like this is Wendy Wasserstein's bag.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:25 AM on December 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

What does your wife do? What is the competition?

I'm assuming actor, and this is an audition situation? So she needs a 2 min piece? Does she need a song?

You are going to want to be careful in that you are going to want to do something that makes sense within the canon, but is also unique.
posted by miles1972 at 8:29 AM on December 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's the The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival

I'm not super clear on the nitty gritty requirements, but there are a variety of pieces required, but there's no singing. Her partner is another woman in her program, but she might end up with a male partner if scheduling conflicts (It's up in the air at the moment). She's going to the regional in Denver in February, and then hopefully to the National in April (who am I kidding, she's great, and she'll go).

The scholarship is The Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship
posted by jferngler at 8:38 AM on December 13, 2015

Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl?
posted by mermaidcafe at 9:36 AM on December 13, 2015

Arcadia by Tom Stoppard.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:37 AM on December 13, 2015

It's on top of my to-read pile, so this is a big of a blind recommendation but I think Simon Stephens' Harper Regan would probably fit the bill.
posted by penguin pie at 10:43 AM on December 13, 2015

Hmm. I'm not clear on this either, if she's supposed to bring a full production, or a scene or what... Many of the above suggestions are great, but very very tricky because they have been done so much, and often with really iconic performances that the judges will know.

I think she is going to want to find some off the beaten track plays - things that she loves, but that don't have recognized Broadway or many regional productions.

I might look to Canada for some great writers that don't get done much in the States yet.

I'm thinking The Russian Play by Hannah Moscovitch (actually she has many that would be fit the bill), Hippies and Bolsheviks by Amiel Gladstone (he was a few too), or Mary's Wedding by Stephen Masicotte, of the top of my head.

There are so many. If she has age ranges, or time periods, that could help me be more specific.
posted by miles1972 at 10:47 AM on December 13, 2015

Venus in Fur.
posted by Brittanie at 11:02 AM on December 13, 2015

Bug, by Tracy Letts
Slowgirl, by Greg Pierce
Head of Passes, by Tarell Alvin McCraney
Gideon's Knot, by Johnna Adams
Talley's Folly, by Lanford Wilson
posted by Gorgik at 12:08 PM on December 13, 2015

Theater that passes the Bechdel test

It's a google doc set up by some mefite that I tripped across via twitter. When I found it, it was short. It currently has over 200 entries.
posted by Michele in California at 2:38 PM on December 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Do you want truly contemporary stuff? Only a lot of the plays being suggested in this thread are twenty or thirty years old!

If 'contemporary' just means Post WWII, then carry on. If you want something a lot more recent, then Girls Like That, Notes To Future Self and Handbagged were all written for female casts within the past four years and handle the big themes.
posted by the latin mouse at 11:37 PM on December 13, 2015

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