Ladies Who Write Plays

I should really, really, probably be doing reading for this week’s classes, especially since I have a meeting with my professor to discuss my…discussion-leading on Baal for Wednesday, but I actually finished a book – two in fact – and since I had a pretty good day today and I’m riding high at the moment on some personal successes, I’m going to post a review of one of them: Contemporary Women Playwrights: Into the Twenty-First Century, a collection edited by Penny Farfan and Lesley Ferris.

Written in 2013, it was not exactly the year’s hottest seller, but every time I walked past it in the library, it caught my attention, and for good reason. It was pretty good.

Rather than give a plot summary, here are my picks for favorite and least favorite essays.

Favorite Essays

  • “Transcultural Dramaturgies: Latina Theatre’s Third Wave,” Natalie Alvarez. The author does an excellent job of getting her point across and making the playwrights (Caridad Svich, Tanya Saracho, and Carmen Aguirre) and their plays sound fascinating. Like, I want to order those plays right now.
  • “Writing Across Our Sea of Islands: Contemporary Women Playwrights from Oceania,” Diana Looser. Mostly because I love Nora-Vagi Brash of Papua New Guinea and she is mentioned several times throughout. Looser makes some interesting observations about the nature of Oceanian theatre which really says something.

Least Favorite Essays

  • “Asian American Women Playwrights and the Dilemma of the Identity Play: Staging Heterotopic Subjectivities,” Esther Kim Lee. The subject matter is interesting, but not how the author puts it. I’m sorry, but Esther Kim Lee wrote terribly here. It seems more like a first draft than a final essay. She relies too much on pull quotes, has no variations in sentence structure, and repeats herself constantly. For example, page 250:
    • Paragraph 2 begins with “Nina quickly learns, however, that Mrs. Chae can never replace her mother, whom she sees as having been different from other Korean women in the way she taught her daughter about racial equality” (Lee 250).
    • Paragraph 3 (the very next one) begins like so: “For Nina, the memory of her mother, whom Mrs. Chae can never replace, guides her in creating for her interracial child an ideal surrounding, a kind of utopia that neither she nor Miles could enjoy during their own childhoods” (Lee 250).
  • “Deb Margolin, Robbie McCauley, Peggy Shaw: Affect and Performance,” Elin Diamond. Okay, I’m going to giving Diamond a bit of a break here because I’ve read and enjoyed her stuff before, but I’m just not a Peggy Shaw fan. I saw Split Britches in Chicago and practically slept through it. Clearly, I did not get it. Also, I might have slept a little through this chapter.

Plays/Playwrights I Want to Read Now:

  • Caridad Svich, Prodigal Kiss
  • Tanya Saracho, El Nogalar
  • Carmen Aguirre, The Refugee Hotel
  • Briar Grace-Smith, anything.
  • Riwia Brown, Irirangi Bay
  • Whiti Hereaka, Te Kaupoi
  • Courtney Sina Meredith, Rushing Dolls
  • Kia Corthron, A Cool Dip in a Barren Saharan Crick
  • Chantal Bilodeau, Sila
  • Christopher St. John, The First Actress
  • Judith Thompson, Sled
  • Marie Clements, Burning Vision
  • Julia Cho, 99 Histories

Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes, I did watch Miss Universe yesterday. All three painful hours of off-key singing in Spanish, Nick Jonas running around, Jeannie Mai babbling on about nothing, 70 ladies who flew to the USA just to dance around in a circle, and the abysmal final questions. I was pleasantly surprised and having correctly predicted 7 of the top 15: USA, Venezuela, Philippines, Spain, India, Colombia, and Jamaica. I was ecstatic when 3 of my picks made it to the top 5, and like the rest of the auditorium, was shocked when Jamaica was called as 4th runner-up. At that point, I was rooting for anyone other than USA, and Colombia was basically the best of the other four. Congratulations Ms. Vega, and to Colombia, for your second Miss Universe and first since the 1950s. The biggest problem this year was the complete eschewing of African candidates, two years running, and the fact that 14/15 countries had placed at least once in the past 5 years, with the only exception being Argentina (who placed in 2006, only 9 years ago). I’m of the opinion that either Africa and the Caribbean should stop sending contestants or there be a continent quota. Just saying.

8 thoughts on “Ladies Who Write Plays

  1. Jacob, you are just a refreshing treat! I’m pushing 63, and I’m amazed at how culturally connected you are to the world around you. No doubt you are the joy of your parents eye(s). 😘

    • Thanks so much, that means a lot to me. My mom just turned 65, and my dad is almost 69. As for culturally connected, I’m a Ph.D. student, so it comes with the territory. But it’s still nice to hear!

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