Play Library

The play library was reviewed and edited by university professors with a focus in historic plays by women.

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1928
 
“A Young Woman,” Helen, is a stenographer for the George H. Jones Company.  She is perpetually late, she feels stifled, she is the sole financial supporter of her nagging mother, and there is not enough space or air in her world.  The gears of the in…
 

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Sophie Treadwell
Sophie Treadwell

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It is the final day of the 19th century, and the last day the Stanhope family will spend in their home. While they are packing up their belongings, a reporter arrives inquiring about the late Alison Stanhope, a renowned poet. The family finds themsel…
 

About the Playwright

Susan Glaspell
Susan Glaspell
Susan Keating Glaspell (1876-1948) Born July 1, 1876, in Davenport, Iowa, Susan Glaspell published news articles and short stories even before entering Drake University, from which she received a degree in philosophy. Over the course of her career, she wrote more than fifty short stories, nine novels, fourteen plays, and a biography of her husband, George Cram (Jig) Cook. It is difficult to imagine the Provincetown Players (1916-1922) without Glaspell, a founding member who acted as well as w…
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Millicent Jordan has received a call that Lord and Lady Ferncliffe will be visiting from England. She decides to host a dinner party in their honor, carefully crafting a guest list of men and women whose personalities will balance each other out. Wha…
 

About the Playwright

Edna Ferber
Edna Ferber
Perhaps less well-known today than in her own time, Edna Ferber was a prolific writer. Her works include twelve novels and eight plays, a selection of novellas and short stories, and two autobiographies. Today, however, her works are largely remembered for their film or stage adaptations. Ferber was born in 1885 in Kalamazoo, Michigan to Jewish parents who operated a general store. As business faltered, they moved among Chicago, Iowa, and Wisconsin. In her travels, she experienced extremes in h…
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1934
Zoe AkinsDrama, Melodrama, Literary Adaptation
 
Charlotte Lovell battles her cousin Delia for the affection of her illegitimate child, whom she reluctantly gave to Delia to raise. In the end, will the child see Charlotte, her biological mother, as nothing more than “an old maid”?
 

About the Playwright

Zoe Akins
Zoe Akins
Zoe Akins (1886-1958) was a playwright, poet, critic and novelist. Born in the small town of Humansville, Missouri, she was encouraged to write by her father. Drawn to the theatre, she also briefly tried an acting career—but after a season of walk-ons, she decided to focus on writing. Her first play to be produced in New York was the verse drama The Magical City (1915), performed by the Washington Square Players. In 1919, Akins made her Broadway debut with Papa: An Amorality in Three Acts, whic…
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Karen Wright and Martha Dobie run a boarding school for girls in which they have invested time and money, aided to a degree by Martha’s meddling aunt, Lily Mortar. A mischievous girl named Mary Tilford spreads a rumor that the headmistresses are havi…
 

About the Playwright

Lillian Hellman
Lillian Hellman
Lillian Hellman (1905-1984) ranks among the most famous and controversial of American playwrights. She never shied away from provocative, social justice-based themes. Her first play, The Children’s Hour (1934), about two owners of a girls’ school accused of having a lesbian affair, was considered so shocking that some members of the Pulitzer Prize committee refused to see it, costing it a nomination. Toys in the Attic (1960) featured two eccentric Southern sisters whose potential was never value…
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1936
Maurine Dallas WatkinsBackstage Comedy
 
The fabulous diva Lily Darnley is on her way back to Broadway with a fabulous new play, Empty Hands—and she has plenty of suggestions how to make it more fabulous, even if they make everybody else miserable. Meanwhile, an ambitious young ingénue, Ker…
 

About the Playwright

Maurine Dallas Watkins
Maurine Dallas Watkins
Maurine Dallas Watkins (1896-1969) is little remembered today, despite being the author of Chicago (1926) the smash Broadway comedy about two “merry murderesses” with showbiz aspirations that would, fifty decades after its premiere, inspire the smash Broadway musical of the same name. The play was based on Watkins’s observations as journalist covering the Windy City’s sensational Jazz Age murder trials. Watkins’ career encompassed more than Chicago—she earned a playwriting degree from Yale Scho…
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1937
 

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Clare Boothe
Clare Boothe

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1939
Lillian HellmanDrama, Melodrama
 
Set in Alabama in 1900, the play tells the saga of the Hubbard family, who have lied, cheated, beaten, and killed their way to the top for generations. With the rise of industrialization, they want to keep that way—they’ve drawn up plans for a new co…
 

About the Playwright

Lillian Hellman
Lillian Hellman
Lillian Hellman (1905-1984) ranks among the most famous and controversial of American playwrights. She never shied away from provocative, social justice-based themes. Her first play, The Children’s Hour (1934), about two owners of a girls’ school accused of having a lesbian affair, was considered so shocking that some members of the Pulitzer Prize committee refused to see it, costing it a nomination. Toys in the Attic (1960) featured two eccentric Southern sisters whose potential was never value…
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