Wednesday, March 14, 2007

More about gendered writing-- form

are experiments in form a female trait?
Lyn Gardner - The Guardian
March 15, 2007 08:55 AM
The premieres last week of Alexandra Wood's debut play The Eleventh Capital at the Royal Court and Debbie Tucker Green's Generations at the Young Vic are a reminder - if it was needed - that it is women who are often in the forefront of experiments in form and style in British theatre. Over the last 20 years Caryl Churchill has proved herself a tireless seeker after new form and it seems that her creative, rumbustious successors are increasingly taking up the baton with enthusiasm and confidence too....Yet it still seems to be the case that when women experiment in form they
are more likely to be shot down by critics and told that they don't know how to
structure a play properly....
Back in the mid-1980s when both women theatre critics and playwrights were
in pretty short supply, accusations that women didn't know how to write proper
plays were commonplace. Jack Tinker dismissed Churchill's now-classic Cloud
Nine because of its "sloppy construction" while another male critic
complained: "The play, if I may use the term of a work that is almost totally innocent of any formal structure, may be about nothing at all." Reviewing Sarah
Daniels' Byrthrite at the Royal Court, Mark Lawson declared: "Ms Daniels has a
gift for provocative invective but she is a poor storyteller: perhaps linear
narrative is too phallic." Well perhaps it is. I've certainly heard it suggested that the well made play in Aristotelian mode corresponds closely to the male orgasm in the way it reaches its climax, release and post-coital conclusion. But maybe choosing not to write a traditionally structured play doesn't mean that you don't know how to write one, simply that you want to find different ways to tell your stories.....
Times fortunately have changed, and there is now an entire army of women
playwrights marching out there in the direction of the future who will not be
stopped by a bit of critical sniping. But when I hear people saying about
Green's Generations: "Oh, it's very interesting, but it's not really a play, is
it?" I know that we've still got a long way to go before women's experiments in
form are accepted without qualification.

I clinked the link to Rona Monro, whom I met in London after I played the juicy role of the mother in her wonderful "Bold Girls" at the Sugan Theatre. I liked Rona very much: don't know how I missed reading about this play of hers while it was happening.....

Murder, rehab, prison - Rona Munro rarely shirks the dark side. But she really wants to write a fluffy play, she tells Samantha Ellis

Thursday January 23, 2003
The Guardian

'I always have this dream that I'm going to write something very soft and happy, and it never seems to happen," says screen and stage writer Rona Munro. She certainly hasn't lived her dream with Iron, a play set in a grim women's prison where a murderess is reunited with her estranged daughter - the child of the man she killed. "Rarer than a unicorn" is how Munro's antiheroine describes herself; of the 70,000 people imprisoned in Britain today, 5,000 are lifers, but only 165 of those lifers are women.
When researching the play, which transfers this week from Edinburgh to London, Munro was struck by "the ordinariness of it. Lifers tend to have a prison routine. So when you visit, you're going into someone's room. It's like a bedsit. It's not like going into an iron-bars environment. The kind of conversations we had were very, very ordinary. We'd never talk about what they had done."

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