Thursday, January 06, 2011

Mae West: In the Margins

Many women playwrights have been marginalized — — including MAE WEST.
• • Theatre critic Anthony Chase has written a compelling piece. From his newsroom in Buffalo, NY, Chase writes: It was just four years ago on New Year’s Eve that the lights of Broadway were dimmed in memory of Wendy Wasserstein, who had succumbed to complications from lymphoma the day before. She left a legacy of plays that had helped transform the American theater. . . .
• • Chase adds some historical background: Wendy Wasserstein had proved, again, that women should command attention in the American cultural consciousness. . . . Of course, it seems that every couple of generations, this point needs to be proven again, and Wasserstein’s future reputation is by no means secure. The great female playwrights of the English Restoration, for instance, Aphra Behn and Susanna Centlivre among them, were the equals of their male counterparts — — Wycherley, Congreve, Farquhar — — but would be ignored by the male critics and scholars who dominated subsequent generations, and nearly forgotten.
• • Mae West's Big Box Office • •
• • Anthony Chase continues: Another American woman playwright who enjoyed the distinction of racking up the highest advance box office sales in the history of Broadway, Mae West, scored a huge hit with her 1926 play, Sex, but saw her 1928 play, Pleasure Man, closed down by the police after its second performance. Despite the fact that she duplicated this success in Hollywood, West’s work is not included in anthologies, she is never mentioned in theater textbooks, and her work is out of print. In fact, the only American woman whose plays are consistently included in the American repertoire is Lillian Hellman, and even she had to go on a deliberate publicity campaign in the 1970s when she saw a list of the nation’s 10 greatest living playwrights and found that her name was missing. . . .
• • This essay ought to be savored in full. Read more:
— — Excerpt: — —
• • Theatre Week column: "An Uncommon Woman"
• • Byline: Anthony Chase
• • Published by: Art Voice | 810-812 Main St., Buffalo, NY 14202 — —
• • Published on: 5 January 2011
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
Add to Google
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • none • •
• • Feed — —
Mae West.

No comments:

Post a Comment