From science to literature to politics, women have always shaped our history. Celebrate the accomplishments of women with these 16 titles about the women who left their mark and made a difference.
The Agitators by Mat Smart (Drama / 1f, 1m) (US/UK)
Who: Susan B. Anthony, Suffragette
Synopsis: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglas were great allies, and at times, great adversaries. Young abolitionists when they met in Rochester in the 1840s, they were full of hopes, dreams, and a common purpose. As they grew to become the cultural icons we know today, their movements collided and their friendship was severely tested. This is the story of that forty-five-year friendship – from its beginning in Rochester, through a civil war, and to the highest halls of government. They agitated the nation, they agitated each other, and, in doing so, they helped shape the Constitution and the course of American history.
The Anastasia Trials in the Court of Women by Carolyn Gage (Drama / 9f) (US)
Who: Duchess Anastasia Romanov, Royalty
Synopsis: An engrossing, controversial courtroom drama, where the audience must serve as judge and jury, deciding motions and verdict, in a case against the five women who betrayed the Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov, the last surviving daughter of the Tsar of Russia. Complex ethical questions on a set of folding chairs. A farcical but profoundly engaging excursion into the hidden world of ethics for women who are both survivors and perpetrators of abuse toward women.
Bernhardt/Hamlet by Theresa Rebeck (Comedy / 3f, 8m) (US/UK)
Who: Sarah Bernhardt, Actress
Synopsis: In 1899, the international stage celebrity set out to tackle her most ambitious role yet: Hamlet. A rollicking high comedy with human drama, set against the lavish Shakespearean production that could make or break Bernhardt’s career.
Bronte by William Luce (Drama / 1f) (US/UK)
Who: Charlotte Brontë, Author
Synopsis: In 1849 Charlotte, at thirty-three, returns from Scarborough, where she has buried Anne, her youngest sister. Only Charlotte and her stern God-fearing father are left in this house of memories and she has resigned herself to the notion that she will live and die a lonely old maid. As the play unfolds, Charlotte comes to terms with her genius and her need for love.
Bull in a China Shop by Bryna Turner (Comedy / 5f) (US/UK)
Who: Mary Woolley and Jeannette Marks, Activists and Educators
Synopsis: Inspired by the real letters between Mary Woolley and Jeannette Marks spanning from 1899 to 1937, this fast-paced comedy asks: What is revolution? What does it mean to be at odds with the world? How do we fulfill our potential? And how the hell do we grow old together?
Decision Height by Meredith Dayna Levy (Drama / 9f) (US/UK)
Who: The Women Airforce Service Pilots
Synopsis: Virginia Hascall has left her home and fiancee to become a Women Airforce Service Pilot, and do her part to help defeat the Axis powers in the Second World War. Through triumph and tragedy, she and her sisters in flight suits learn as much about themselves as they do about airplanes. As the war rages over there, the women form a sisterhood that cannot be broken, and Virginia must make a decision that will change her life forever. A story about friendship and the complex, but essential role of women in wartime.
Golda’s Balcony by William Gibson (Drama / 1f) (US)
Who: Golda Meir, Israeli Prime Minister
Synopsis: This tight-knit story of war and peace opens in 1973, on the eve of the Yom Kippur War, and uses flashbacks to let Golda tell the story of her life: her journey from her birthplace in Russia to the United States where she settled in Milwaukee, became a school teacher and married. She describes her role as a socialist Zionist, her emigration to Palestine in 1921, the birth of her two children and the breakup of her marriage. These details form an intriguing backdrop for a dramatic look at idealism, power and the strength it takes to shape the destiny of a nation.
Joan of Arc by Thomas Wood Stevens (Drama / 5f, 32m) (US)
Who: Joan of Arc, Saint and Military Leader
Synopsis: This remarkable play about Joan of Arc was especially prepared for production in Domremy, birthplace of Joan, in September, 1918. The occasion was a most impressive one, since the production was undertaken by American actors aided by members of the A. E. F. The play was later performed in other towns of Lorraine, the province surrounding Domremy. The play is based to a great extent directly on the testimony actually taken down at the trial of Joan. Nearly all of the Maid’s speeches are taken literally from the evidence.
The Miracle Worker by William Gibson (Drama / 7f, 7m) (US/UK)
Who: Annie Sullivan, Special Needs Teacher; Helen Keller, Author and Political Activist
Synopsis: This classic tale dramatizes the volatile relationship between Annie Sullivan and her student, the deaf and blind Hellen Keller. Trapped in a secret, silent world, unable to communicate, Helen is violent, spoiled, and treated as sub-human. Only Annie reali
zes that there is a mind and spirit waiting to be rescued from her dark, tortured silence. With scenes of intense physical and emotional dynamism, Annie’s success with Helen finally comes with the utterance of a single, glorious word: “water.”
Mom, How Did You Meet the Beatles? by Adrienne Kennedy and Adam P. Kennedy (Comedy / 1f, 1m) (US/UK)
Who: Adrienne Kennedy, Author
Synopsis: Adrienne Kennedy relates her star-studded experience of moving to London and working on The Lennon Play: In His Own Write. Her absolute astonishment at being thrust in among the rich and famous of the theater and film world is really refreshing and charming. This is a great story, told in an interview-style conversation between a mother and son.
Mother of the Maid by Jane Anderson (Drama / 4f, 3m) (US/UK)
Who: Joan of Arc’s Mother
Synopsis: The story of Joan of Arc’s mother, a sensible, hard-working, God-fearing peasant woman whose faith is upended as she deals with the baffling journey of her odd and extraordinary daughter. This riveting play is an epic tale told through an unexpected and remarkable perspective.
Murder, Margaret and Me by Philip Meeks (Dark Comedy / 3f) (US/UK)
Who: Agatha Christie, Author; Margaret Rutherford, Actress
Synopsis: Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie didn’t want Margaret Rutherford to bring her fabled spinster to life. And Margaret Rutherford was mortified at the prospects of sullying her reputation with something as sordid as murder. This is the story of the real reason why the acting legend and “the funniest woman alive” didn’t want to take on the role that made her celebrated across the world. Margaret and Agatha form an unlikely friendship filled with high tea, brandy snaps and gossip. Meanwhile Agatha turns detective herself and she’s on a mission. She’s determined to unearth Rutherford’s tragic and shocking secret.
Nest by Bathsheba Doran (Drama / 2f, 5m) (US)
Who: Susanna Cox, Indentured Servant
Synopsis: A taut domestic love triangle set against the landscape of a fledgling nation on the verge of realizing its manifest destiny at a terrible bloody cost. The play re-imagines the real life story of Susanna Cox, a young indentured servant from Pennsylvania who murdered her baby in 1809, and the story of the man who wrote the ballad that was sold at her hanging. The play is a searing exploration of American dreams and violence and their place in the national psyche.
Radiance: The Passion of Marie Curie by Alan Alda (Drama / 3f, 5m) (US/UK)
Who: Marie Curie, Scientist
Synopsis: With backbreaking work in a ramshackle lab in Paris, Marie Curie and her husband, Pierre, achieve a revolutionary understanding of radiation and share a Nobel Prize. When her beloved Pierre dies in an accident, Marie is plunged into depression. Paul Langevin, fleeing an unhappy marriage, gives her the strength to return to her work. But the scandal over their affair threatens to end her career — just when she might become the first person ever to receive a second Nobel Prize.
The Revlon Girl by Neil Anthony Docking (Drama / 5f) (US/UK)
Who: The Survivors of the Aberfan Disaster
Synopsis: Eight months following Aberfan Disaster of 1966 (in which 144 people were killed; 116 of them children) The Revlon Girl tells the real life story of a group of bereaved mothers who met every week above a local hotel to talk, cry and even laugh without feeling guilty. At one of their meetings, the women looked at each other and admitted how much they felt they’d let themselves go. So afraid that people would think them frivolous, they secretly arranged for a representative from Revlon to come and give them a talk on beauty tips.
Toni Stone by Lydia R. Diamond (Dramatic Comedy / 1f, 8m) (US/UK)
Who: Toni Stone
Synopsis: Toni Stone is an encyclopedia of baseball stats. She’s got a great arm. And she doesn’t understand why she can’t play with the boys. About the first woman to go pro in the Negro League and featuring a bullpen of players crossing age, race and gender to portray all supporting roles, Toni Stone is a vibrant new play about staying in the game, playing hard, playing smart and playing your own way.
Top Girls by Caryl Churchill (Comedy / 7f) (US/UK)
Who: Various Women in History
Synopsis: Marlene has been promoted to managing director of a London employment agency and is celebrating. The symbolic luncheon is attended by women in legend or history who offer perspectives on maternity and ambition. In a time warp, these ladies are also her co-workers, clients, and relatives. Marlene, like her famous guests, has had to pay a price to ascend from proletarian roots to the executive suite: she has become, figuratively speaking, a male oppressor, and even coaches female clients on adopting odious male traits. Marlene has also abandoned her illegitimate and dull-witted daughter. Her emotional and sexual life has become as barren as Lady Macbeth’s.
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photo: Mother of the Maid (Joan Marcus)