on her shoulders

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About

ON HER SHOULDERS was founded in 2013 to present rehearsed, staged readings of plays by women from across the spectrum of time, with contemporary dramaturgs contextualizing them for modern audiences. The program was incorporated into New Perspectives' Women's Work Project in 2014 and continues to strive to make it impossible for producers and theatre companies to deny or ignore the 1,000-year history and value of women's contribution to the theatrical canon. To date the program has presented 47 plays by 37 writers from the years ca 965 to 1970. OHS is produced by Melissa Attebery and Melody Brooks. Kristin Heckler is Associate Producer.

Play readings occur every month with works from classic female playwrights. With an artistic team of actors, directors, and dramaturgs, we secure the space and market the event. For each reading we also find a specialist on the woman playwright being presented, and they speak to the audience before the events.

 

OHS History

ON HER SHOULDERS was created by Susan Jonas in association with the New School for Drama in May 2013. Jonas was joined by playwright Andrea Lepcio, and actor Lillian Rodriguez in the initial phase of the program. NPTC took over the program that November. The first season, curated by Jonas, offered 10 plays. To accommodate continuing research (especially seeking culturally diverse writers) and tighter schedules at the New School, we now offer four events per season. Through May of 2019 OHS has presented 45 plays by 37 writers from the years ca 965 to 1970, and special events on theatre women in the Suffrage and Radical Theatre Movements.

A book covering the first 3 years was published in 2017 and disseminated to theatre students, practitioners, and historians as an educational tool. We also donated copies to college theatre teachers and to companies that specialize in the "classics" to encourage plays by women. A revised version of the book is in process to bring it up to date, and will be available in fall 2019.

 

Notable and Rediscovered Women Playwrights Throughout the Centuries 
(A Work in Progress)
Compiled by Susan Jonas

Although there has been a lot of progress in recognizing women playwrights of the past, there are hundreds more that have yet to be rediscovered or reclaimed. The work of reclamation is a large part of the ON HER SHOULDERS mission. The goal is to dig through the resources to pay tribute to these noteworthy playwrights.

 

10th - 11th Century

  • Abbess Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) Ordo Virtutum

  • Hrotsvitha (930-1002) the first known European playwright since Antiquity. Dulcitus (ca 955) Paphnutius, Gallicanus

16th & 17th Century 

  • Aphra Behn (1640-1689) The Rover (1677), Sir Patient Fancy, The Dutch Lover

  • Elizabeth Cary (1585-1639) Tragedy of Mariam (1602-4)

  • Margaret Cavendish (1661-1717) The Convent of Pleasure (1668), Bell in Campo (1662)

  • Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648-1695) The House of Desires (1683)

  • Mary Pix (1666 -1709) The Beau Defeated (1700)

18th Century

  • Joanna Baillie (1762 –1851) De Monfort (1798)

  • Frances Burney (1776–1828) The Woman Hater (1800)

  • Susanna Centlivre (1667-1723) Bold Stroke for a Wife (1718)

  • Frances Chamberlaine Sheridan (1724-1766) The Discovery (1763)

  • Hannah Cowley (1743–1809) The Belle’s Stratagem (1780)

  • Eliza Haywood (1693?-1756) A Wife to be Let (1723)

  • Elizabeth Inchbald (1753-1821) I’ll Tell You What (1785)

  • Susanna Rowson, née Haswell (1762-1824) Slaves of Algiers (1794)

  • Mercy Otis Warren (1728-1814) The Group (1775), The Ladies of Castille (1790)

19th Century

  • Beatrice Harraden (1864-1936) Lady Geraldine’s Speech (1909)

  • Pauline Hopkins (1859-1930) Peculiar Sam, or, The Underground Railroad (1879)

  • Martha Morton (1865-1925) The Merchant (1880), A Fool of Fortune (1896),
    Bachelor's Romance (1897)

  • Harriet Louisa Childe-Pemberton (1852-1922) Shattered Nerves (1899)

  • Rachilde (1860-1953) Madame La Mort (1891), Pleasure (1893), Voice of Blood (1890)

  • Anna Cora Mowatt Ritchie (1819–1870) Fashion (1845)

  • Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) The Christian Slave (1855)

20th Century

  • Djuna Barnes (1892-1982) A Passion Play (1918), Kurzy of the Sea (1920), Little Drops of Rain (1922), The Dove (1926)

  • Marita Bonner (1899–1971) The Purple Flower- A Play (1928)

  • Alice Childress (1920–1994) Trouble in Mind (1955), Wine in the Wilderness (1969)

  • Rachel Crothers (1878–1958) A Man’s World (1909)

  • Teresa Deevy (1894-1963), Reapers (1930), Temporal Powers (1932), Katie Roche (1936), Light Falling (1947), Within a Marble City (1948), Going Beyond Alma’s Glory (1949)

  • Shelagh Delaney (1939- ) A Taste of Honey (1958)

  • Edith Ellis (1876-1960) Mary Jane's Pa (1912)

  • Edna Ferber (1885-1968), (with G. S. Kaufman) Royal Family (1927) & Dinner at Eight (1932)

  • Hallie Flanagan (1889-1969) Can You Hear Their Voices (1931)

  • Maria Irene Fornes (1930-2019) Fefu and her Friends (1977), Mud (1983), And What of the Night? (1964), The Office (1966)

  • Rose Franken (1895-1988) Outrageous Fortune (1944), Soldier’s Wife (1945)

  • Zona Gale (1874-1938) Miss Lulu Bett (1920)

  • Griselda Gambaro (1928- ) El Campo (1967)

  • Alice Erya Gerstenberg (1885-1972) Overtones (1913) and Fourteen (1920)

  • Susan Glaspell (1876–1948) Trifles (1916) The Inheritors (1921) & The Verge (1921)

  • Evelyn Glover (1874?-1941?) Miss Appleyard’s Awakening (1911)

  • Lady Augusta Gregory (1852–1932) Grania (1912)

  • Angelina Weld Grimke (1880-1958) Rachel (1916)

  • Cicely Hamilton (1872-1852) Diana of Dobson’s (1908)

  • Lorraine Hansberry (1930–1965), Raisin in the Sun (1959) & Les Blancs (written before her death in 1965, first produced in 1970)

  • Lillian Hellman (1905-1984) The Children's Hour (1934), The Little Foxes (1939), Another Part of the Forest (1946), Watch on the Rhine (1941) 

  • Marie Jenney Howe (1870-1934) An Anti-Suffrage Monologue (1913)

  • Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) The Mule Bone: a Comedy of Negro Life in Three Acts (1931), Spunk (1935)

  • Georgia Douglas Johnson (1880–1966) Plumes (1927), Safe (1929), Blue Eyed Black Boy (1930)

  • Clare Booth Luce (1903-1987) The Women (1936)

  • Daphne du Maurier (1907-1989) The Years Between (1946)

  • Carson McCullers (1917-1967) Member of the Wedding (1950)

  • May Miller (1899-1995) Stragglers in the Dust (1930), Nails and Thorns (1933)

  • Mrs. Harlow Phibbs Mother’s Meeting (1913)

  • Dawn Powell (1896-1965) Big Night (1928) & Walking Down Broadway (1931) & Jig Saw (1934)

  • Elizabeth Robins (1862–1952) Votes for Women (1907)

  • Alice L. Rostetter (1880-1961) The Widow's Veil (1919)

  • Rita Creighton Smith (1877-1962), The Rescue (1916)

  • Githa Sowerby (1876-1970) Rutherford and Son (1912)

  • Christopher St. John (1871-1960) How The Vote Was Won (1909), with Cicely Hamilton

  • Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950) Aria da Capo (1919)

  • Gertrude Stein (1874–1946) Mother of Us All (1947)

  • Sophie Treadwell (1885–1970) Machinale (1928)

  • Maurine Dallas Watkins (1896-1969) Chicago (1926) So Help Me God (1929)

  • Mae West (1893-1980) Diamon Lil’ (1928) & SEX (1926)

  • Edith Wharton (1862-1937) House of Mirth (novel-1905) dramatization adapted by Wharton and Clyde Fitch (1906)

Works in bold have been showcased through the ON HER SHOULDERS program.

 

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