Theatre has long been considered a feminine interest for which women consistently purchase the majority of tickets, while the shows they are seeing typically are written and brought to the stage by men. Furthermore, the stories these productions tell are often about men, and the complex leading roles in these shows are written for and performed by male actors. Despite this imbalance, the feminist voice presses to be heard and has done so with more success than ever before.
In From Aphra Behn to Fun Home: A Cultural History of Feminist Theatre, Carey Purcell traces the evolution of these important artists and productions over several centuries. After examining the roots of feminist theatre in early Greek plays and looking at occasional works produced before the twentieth century, Purcell then identifies the key players and productions that have emerged over the last several decades. This book covers the heyday of the second wave feminist movement-which saw the growth of female-centric theatre groups-and highlights the work of playwrights such as Caryl Churchill, Pam Gems, and Wendy Wasserstein. Other prominent artists discussed here include playwrights Paula Vogel Lynn and Tony-award winning directors Garry Hynes and Julie Taymor. The volume also examines diversity in contemporary feminist theatre-with discussions of such playwrights as Young Jean Lee and Lynn Nottage-and a look toward the future.
Purcell explores the very nature of feminist theater-does it qualify if a play is written by a woman or does it just need to feature strong female characters?-as well as how notable activist work for feminism has played a pivotal role in theatre. An engaging survey of female artists on stage and behind the scenes, From Aphra Behn to Fun Home will be of interest to theatregoers and anyone interested in the invaluable contributions of women in the performing arts.