Today, March 8th is International Women’s Day, and in the event’s honor, we’d like to take an opportunity to highlight some of the bold and brilliant female writers we’ve published in recent years. International Women’s Day began in 1910, when, in the midst of the suffrage movement, Clara Zetkins organized a yearly observance of women and their contributions to society. As of 2000, International Women’s Day is recognized throughout the world, in countries as varied as Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China, Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Zambia.
The editorial team has complied a collection of recently published works by women writers that embody the female experience. These eight works contain strong female protagonists, or female-powered plotlines, or fantastically diverse female ensemble casts. From the exploration of love and friendship in culture in Tanya Shaffer’s Baby Taj, to the vibrant, colorful young women in Milk Like Sugar, to the intrepid exploration of identity in Lucy and the Conquest, these are stories that move audiences beyond just the significance of today’s holiday, but speak to universal themes of triumph, love, redemption, family and much more.
Samuel French has long been a champion of female playwrights and the female story on the stage. We’d encourage you to join the International Women’s Day celebration by picking up a copy of one of these plays, but also to reach out to your local theatre about what they are to help combat the problem of inequality in the theatre. We also encourage you to check out some amazing groups:
- League of Professional Theatre Women
- Little Black Dress INK
- The Athena Project Festival
- The Los Angeles Female Playwright Initiative
- The International Centre for Women Playwrights
- The Women’s Project
Happy International Women’s Day!
Ohio State Murders by Adrienne Kennedy
Winner! 2008 OBIE Award, Lifetime Achievement
Ohio State Murders portrays Suzanne Alexander, a fictional African American writer whose life both is, and is not, like her author’s. When Suzanne enters Ohio State University in 1949, little does she know what the supposed safe haven of academia holds in store. Years later, Suzanne is invited to return to the University to talk about the violence in her writing. A dark mystery unravels. The play is an intriguing, unusual and chilling look at the destructiveness of racism in the U.S.
“Like all truly scary horror stories, the tale told in Adrienne Kennedy’s Ohio State Murders leaves a lasting chill in the bones…Ms. Kennedy is one of the finest living American playwrights, and perhaps the most underappreciated.” – Charles Isherwood, The New York Times
“Mesmerizing…extremely effective…captivating” – TheaterMania
“A testament to the potency of storytelling…Employs a narrative that’s lurid on the surface to tell a darker, subtler tale” – Boston Phoenix
Baby Taj by Tanya Shaffer
Top Ten Shows of the Year! San Francisco Chronicle, the Oakland Tribune, and the San Jose Mercury News Nominee! American Theatre Critics’ Association Steinberg Award Nominee! Bay Area Theatre Critics’ Award
The legendary Taj Mahal is the next assignment for Rachel, an American travel writer whose failed romances have led her to ask: Why not have the baby she craves – on her own? She finds unexpected answers – and larger questions – among the glittering legacies of India’s past. Alive with the sounds and colors of a remarkable country, this bittersweet comedy of mischievous matchmaking raises provocative questions about love, friendship, family, and what it means to be ready to be a parent.
“A captivating inquiry into love and freedom… Thrives on a witty, probing clash between freethinking modernity and tradition.” – Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle
“A bundle of cross-cultural joy… Marries the breezy cynicism of the now with the eternal power of India… [Shaffer’s] ear for mod-groovy lingo gives the play a to-die-for sparkle.” – San Jose Mercury News
“…Filled with a savvy traveler’s enthusiasm for the cultural and historical rewards of her journey.” – Oakland Tribune
Precious Little by Madeleine George
Winner! 10 Best Plays of 2011, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Brodie, a gifted linguist, learns unsettling news about the baby she carries. Unable to get comfort from her girlfriend, she finds it in the two least likely sources imaginable: the elderly speaker of a vanishing language…and a gorilla at the zoo. Madeleine George’s irreverent and charming new play reveals the beauty and the limits of human language.
“A crisp, fast-moving, tough-minded but often comic play about love, language, memory, culture and commitment.” – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Just sit in your chair and let George’s ideas and words flood over you and raise you up. Her use of language is at the same time incredibly economic and hugely expansive.” – Pittsburgh City Paper
“An 80-minute little gem that makes a big impression.” – San Francisco Chronicle
Milk Like Sugar by Kirsten Greenidge
Winner! 2012 Obie Award for Playwriting Winner! 2011 Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award Winner! 2011 San Diego Critics Circle Craig Noel Award for Outstanding New Play
It is Annie Desmond’s sixteenth birthday and her friends have decided to help her celebrate in style, complete with a brand new tattoo. Before her special night is over, however, Annie and her friends enter into a life altering pact. When Annie tries to make good on her promise to her friends, she is forced to take a good look at the world that surrounds her. She befriends Malik, who promises a bright future, and Keera, whose evangelical leanings inspire Annie in a way her young parents have not been able to do. In the end Annie’s choices propel her onto an irreversible path in this story that combines wit, poetry, and hope.
“A distinctive view of a matter of vital currency, crisply delineated characters who reveal more layers as the play proceeds, richly funny vernacular dialogue… Milk Like Sugar delivers piercing glimpses of the way underachievement and unhappiness are passed down from generation to generation.” – The New York Times
“Greenidge captures girl speak in unnerving perfection” – The Daily News
“The title refers to the sweet powdered milk that offers far more flavor than nutritional value. But the tart Milk Like Sugar offers plenty of both” – The New York Post
Lucy and the Conquest by Cusi Cram
Pill popping Lucy Santiago heads to her family home in Bolivia after being fired from the syndicated hit “Beach Detectives”. All she wants to do is forget her troubles but her wildly eccentric family and a mysterious spirit that lives under Simon Bolivar’s campaign bed won’t let her. Lucy is forced to confront her own troubled history as well as the history of a conquered people.
“Lucy and the Conquest is a wild ride. – Jeffrey Borak, Berkshire Eagle
“This is going to be what’s called a rave review…Lucy and the Conquest, written by Cusi Cram, is a triumph for this company…it offers uniformly stunning performances and an original script that captures the imagination.” – Carol King, Schenectady Daily Gazette
Vrooommm! ANASComedy by Janet Allard
In this breezy “NASComedy” the fast lane is stalled to a screeching halt by the arrival of a woman driver on the NASCAR scene, and egos get bruised as Holly “Legs” Nelson starts stealing the show, driving so fast some think she’s cheating. Her rival, Hotshot, wants to sabotage her success, which results in a fast-paced story of NASCAR drivers and their kooky fans, all in pursuit of high-octane glory. And for the sexism of these chauvinist drivers? Well, they’re all played by women!
Wildlife! by Ramona King
A unique story of seven ordinary non-enslaved women accused of murder, who escaped, kidnapped and fought to ultimately give their lives for the future of…a little girl.
Three African-American women arrive at Bullet’s cabin with a white woman in tow and a dead white man in their wake. Bullet used to help slaves cross to the North and the three are seeking her help, but ever since her brother was hung Bullet has sworn off guiding. Her brother’s widow, a Native-American woman named Rain, and their little girl live with her. At first Bullet and Rain don’t want to help, but then they decide it would be for the best. It becomes clear that the white woman (who might have “black blood” in her veins) was complicit in the killing of her husband and eventually joins with them to fight against a posse that comes after the women. Throughout the play, the women reveal their personal histories as they grow to trust one another.
Shrinking Violets and Towering Tiger Lilies by Tina Howe
Seven Brief Plays About Women in Distress
To go through life as a woman is to be in distress most of the time, so these short plays alight on situations that are inherently distressing — doctor visits, photo shoots, looking for the right dress and navigating around swimming pools. Since we’re blessed with uncanny reserves of strength and imagination, we tend to emerge triumphant. One way or another these are comedies about transformation.
Appearances – A mousy woman hoping to be the belle of the ball tries on dress after dress, exhausting the patience of the woman in charge of the area.
The Divine Fallacy – A camera-shy novelist needs a head shot for her upcoming novel. Chaos ensues during her photo shoot with a suave fashion photographer.
Through a Glass Darkly – Things spin out of control when a young playwright visits her optometrist for an emergency eye exam.
Teeth – It’s Bach’s birthday. A neurotic woman has come to her dentist to have a filling replaced, but he’s struggling with his own problems.
Water Music – Ophelia unexpectedly pops up in the whirlpool of a health club after having drowned in “Hamlet”, creating havoc for the lifeguard and a retired school teacher.
Milk and Water – The Nursing Mothers’ Water Aerobics class is waiting for their teacher to show up. When she cancels, they take over the class with stunning results.
Skin Deep – Daphne, the wood nymph is being chased through the subway system by Apollo. She flies into the arms of an infamous dermatologist who tries to save her. But can he?