Women Pulitzer Playwrights

Biographical Profiles and Analyses of the Plays

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About the Book

In the first century of the coveted Pulitzer Prizes, only 11 women have won the prize for drama: Zona Gale (1921), Susan Glaspell (1931), Zoe Akins (1935), Mary Coyle Chase (1945), Ketti Frings (1958), Beth Henley (1981), Marsha Norma (1983), Wendy Wasserstein (1989), Paula Vogel (1998), Margaret Edson (1999), and Suzan-Lori Parks (2002).
This book is about them and their landmark plays, beginning with Gale’s Miss Lulu Bett, which championed the unmarried woman forced to work in the home of a married relative, and closing with Parks’ controversial Topdog/Underdog, which made her the first black woman to win the prize.
Drawn from personal interviews with the playwrights and research from archives and unpublished material, this work shows how the stage art of women has reflected life in the American family and traces a strong thread of feminist history in our culture. Overview chapters set the stage for each playwright and play with sketches of the time period, highlighting the major points of women’s experiences in culture, society and the family. Other chapters analyze each play in detail and discuss the playwright’s life and opinions. The book also includes a quick history of the Pulitzer Prize and a chapter honoring black female playwrights.

About the Author(s)

Carolyn Casey Craig taught theatre and women’s studies at Loyola University in Chicago and is a member of the Actors’ Equity. She now lives in Portland, Oregon.

Bibliographic Details

Carolyn Casey Craig
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 347
Bibliographic Info: photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2004
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1881-7
eISBN: 978-0-7864-2691-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vi

Introduction. “Take, for Example…”: A Brief Retrospect on Women, Theatre, and Prizes      1

Prologue. Family Ties-A Troublesome Knot?      13

PART I. FAMILY LIES AND THE UNWED WOMAN: GALE, GLASPELL, AND AKINS      17

1. The 1920s: Those Not-So-Good Old Days      18

2. Zona Gale and the Real Village Tale      25

3. Susan Glaspell: From Iowa Village to Greenwich Village      44

4. The Depression Years: Gaining Despite the Losses      61

5. Zoe Akins, Escape Artist      66

PART II. DOMESTIC WARS: CHASE AND FRINGS      83

6. The 1940s: Women in a World at War      84

7. Mary Chase and Her Wartime Rabbit      89

8. The 1950s: An Uncomfortable Homecoming      108

9. Ketti Frings and Her Stageworthy Angel      113

PART III. WHOSE WOMAN IS SHE? HENLEY, NORMAN, AND WASSERSTEIN      127

10. Being Female in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s      129

11. Beth Henley’s Funny-Terrible World View      140

12. The 1980s: Backlash and Beyond      160

13. Marsha Norman: Getting Out the Truth about Family and Self      166

14. Wendy Wasserstein: Lola’s Well-Rounded Daughter      184

PART IV. LESSONS DRIVEN HOME: VOGEL AND EDSON      207

15. The 1990s: Gender Crisis at the Crossroads (Or, Wrong Turn at the Men’s Movement)      208

16. Paula Vogel’s Winding Road to Victory      213

17. Margaret Edson’s Advanced Course in Wit      232

PART V. HISTORY IN THE STAGING? SUZAN-LORI PARKS AND THE SISTERHOOD OF BLACK PLAYWRIGHTS      249

18. The Early 2000s: “Bang, Bang-You’re American”      251

19. Suzan-Lori Parks: Putting Dirt and Deadly Games Onstage      259

20. “Also in the Winner’s Circle” (The Legacy of Black Women Playwrights)      279

Epilogue: Parting Thoughts on Family Flux and Cultural Flummery      291

Chapter Notes      297

Selected Bibliography      319

Index      331