Play Library

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

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In this surrealist, non-linear opera (which began as a play), three “not” sisters and two biological brothers suffer from acute boredom, which they choose to alleviate by playing a game of murder. Inventively using the lights to turn the game into a …
 

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Gertrude Stein
Gertrude Stein

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1944
 
All Veta Louise Simmons wants is for her daughter, Myrtle Mae, to have a chance at a decent place in society one day and for her brother, Elwood P. Dowd, to be happy, respectable, and sane.  This proves difficult when Elwood’s best friend and constan…
 

About the Playwright

Mary Chase
Mary Chase
Born on February 25, 1907 in Denver, Colorado, Mary Coyle Chase grew up immersed in the Irish folktales of her mother’s family.  She would later use those legends as inspiration for her fantastical stage plays and novels.  After graduating high school, Chase attended the University of Denver and then the University of Colorado before landing a job with the Rocky Mountain News and working as a New Deal National Youth Administration publicity director.  It was at Rocky Mountain News--where she wor…
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1948
Fay KaninComedy
 
Liberal Congresswoman and former war reporter Agatha Reed returns to her alma mater, the Good Hope College for Women, to screen a documentary about World War II. Reed wants the young graduates to see the horrors of war firsthand, but the college’s co…
 

About the Playwright

Fay Kanin
Fay Kanin
Fay Kanin (1917-2013) has written for stage, screen, and television—winning two Emmys, the Writers’ Guild of America Edmund H. North Award, and the Humanitas Prize Keiser Award during her seven decade career. Kanin was also President of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences from 1979 to 1983, the second woman to hold that post. Kanin began her career as a story editor and script reader for RKO in the 1930’s, networking with executives and learning everything about the business—from l…
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1953
Jane BowlesTragicomedy
 
Set on the border between Mexico and California in the 1940s, the play explores the mysterious, powerful, and sometimes suffocating attachment between a mother and her daughter—the beautiful, aristocratic Gertrude Eastman Cuevas and her seemingly imp…
 

About the Playwright

Jane Bowles
Jane Bowles
Jane Bowles (1917-1973) wrote only one novel, one play, and seven short stories in her lifetime, but her impact on American literature is significant. Both Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams cited her as influences, and her surprising, spiky surreal writing style anticipated a changing literary landscape. Bowles was known for her wry, self-deprecatory sense of humor. “I’m Jewish, homosexual, alcoholic, a communist—and a cripple!” she once replied when asked why she remained on the literary fr…
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1955
Alice ChildressComedy, Drama
 
A scathing indictment of racism in American commercial theatre, Trouble in Mind tells the story of Wiletta Mayer, an African-American actress cast in a supposedly “progressive” play about racism by a white male author—it turns out to be anything but …
 

About the Playwright

Alice Childress
Alice Childress
Alice Childress (1912-1994) was an actress, novelist, and playwright. Born in Charleston, South Carolina, she moved to Harlem at age five, where she was raised by her grandmother. Alice’s grandmother encouraged her love of writing, and Alice found inspiration in her family’s stories as well as the lives of the people around her. In particular, the stories she heard at weekly church events inspired her to focus on the lives of urban African-Americans. Alice developed a passion for theatre and at…
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Lena Younger and her family have lived, through discrimination and poverty, in the same beaten-up apartment in Chicago’s Southside for years, ever since Lena and her husband purchased it soon after their marriage.  Mr. Younger has passed away, and …
 

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Lorraine Hansberry
Lorraine Hansberry
Lorraine Hansberry was born in Chicago’s Southside on May 19, 1930 to Nannie and Carl Hansberry.  Her father, who worked in real estate and banking, was at the forefront of the fight for civil rights in the city of Chicago and rebelled against the “restrictive covenants” that prevented African Americans from living in certain all-white neighborhoods of the city.  His fight led to his family taking a house in one of these neighborhoods and facing extreme violence in response.  Later, he and the N…
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