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Macmillan Higher Education Palgrave Higher Education

Contemporary Women Playwrights

Into the 21st Century

ISBN 9781137270788
Publication Date February 2014
Formats Paperback Ebook Hardcover 
Publisher Palgrave

Breaking new ground in this century, this wide-ranging collection of essays is the first of its kind to address the work of contemporary international women playwrights. The book considers the work of established playwrights such as Caryl Churchill, Marie Clements, Lara Foot-Newton, Maria Irene Fornes, Sarah Kane, Lisa Kron, Young Jean Lee, Lynn Nottage, Suzan-Lori Parks, Djanet Sears, Caridad Svich, and Judith Thompson, but it also foregrounds important plays by many emerging writers. Divided into three sections—Histories, Conflicts, and Genres—the book explores such topics as the feminist history play, solo performance, transcultural dramaturgies, the identity play, the gendered terrain of war, and eco-drama, and encompasses work from the United States, Canada, Latin America, Oceania, South Africa, Egypt, and the United Kingdom.

With contributions from leading international scholars and an introductory overview of the concerns and challenges facing women playwrights in this new century, Contemporary Women Playwrights explores the diversity and power of women's playwriting since 1990, highlighting key voices and examining crucial critical and theoretical developments within the field.

Penny Farfan is Professor of Drama at the University of Calgary, Canada. She is the author of Women, Modernism, and Performance as well as many articles and book chapters on modernism and performance and on contemporary women playwrights. She is currently the editor of Theatre Journal.

Lesley Ferris is Arts and Humanities Distinguished Professor of Theatre at The Ohio State University, USA. Her publications include numerous essays on gender and performance and Caribbean-derived carnival. Her recent devised work was The Camouflage Project, which focused on British women undercover agents in occupied France in World War II.

Notes on Contributors
Introduction; Penny Farfan and Lesley Ferris
1. Feeling the Loss of Feminism: Sarah Kane's Blasted and an Experiential Genealogy of Contemporary Women's Playwriting; Elaine Aston
2. Female Alliances and Women's Histories in Contemporary Mexican and Argentine Drama; Ana Elena Puga
3. Chronic Desires: Theatre's Aching Lesbian Bodies; Sara Warner
4. Women Playwrights in Egypt; Nehad Selaiha with Sarah Enany
5. Transcultural Dramaturgies: Latina Theatre's Third Wave; Natalie Alvarez
6. Black Women Playwrights Making History: Katori Hall's The Mountaintop; Soyica Diggs Colbert
7. The Gendered Terrain in Contemporary Theatre of War by Women; Sharon Friedman
8. Enough! Women Playwrights Confront the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict; Amelia Howe Kritzer
9. Women Playwrights in Post-Apartheid South Africa: Yael Farber, Lara Foot-Newton, and the Call for Ubuntu; Yvette Hutchison
10. Writing Across Our Sea of Islands: Contemporary Women Playwrights from Oceania; Diana Looser
11. Ecodramaturgy in/and Contemporary Women's Playwriting; Wendy Arons and Theresa J. May
12. Making the Bones Sing: The Feminist History Play, 1976–2010; Katherine E. Kelly
13. Performing (Our)Selves: The Role of the Actress in Theatre-History Plays by Women; Lesley Ferris and Melissa Lee
14. Historical Landscapes in Contemporary Plays by Canadian Women; Penny Farfan
15. Asian American Women Playwrights and the Dilemma of the Identity Play: Staging Heterotopic Subjectivities; Esther Kim Lee
16. Deb Margolin, Robbie McCauley, Peggy Shaw: Affect and Performance; Elin Diamond


This carefully curated, compelling collection considers women playwrights' work through history and nation, theory and theme, and regard the plays as prescient documents of their cultural moment. Farfan and Ferris cast across the globe for women playwrights with dramatically different ideological and technical concerns. The critics commenting here illuminate the playwrights' particular perspectives while they excavate the universal human challenges, joys, and sorrows evident in their work. Why women, yet again? Because the well-spring of aesthetic innovation, artistic energy, and political insight the capable critics and historians engage in these pages demands to be seen, heard, and known. Attention must be paid to this rewarding work.' – Jill Dolan, Professor of Theatre, Princeton University, USA
'This is a terrific and very timely book that includes contributions from some of the strongest 'next generation' thinkers.' – Peggy Phelan, Ann O'Day Maples Professor in the Arts, Professor of English and Theatre and Performance Studies, Stanford University, USA
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