08 March, 2008

Female playwrights struggle against ingrained bias to get their works produced

San Diego Union-Tribune:

Playwright Hannah Cowley's "The Belle's Stratagem" is a devilishly clever comedy packed with sharply drawn characters and sparkling dialogue. A long-running hit during the 1780 London theater season, it's a less bitter, arguably better play than Richard Brinsley Sheridan's classic "The School for Scandal."

Sheridan's plays are still read and staged worldwide. But Cowley and Sheridan's playwriting mother Frances and two generations of trailblazing female playwrights before them have been forgotten. After sharing the London stage dominated by the supportive actor-manager David Garrick, the women were erased from literary history – untaught, unproduced, unknown.

Two hundred years later, throughout the English-speaking world, it was possible to study theater history at any university and never read a work by a female playwright."

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