I write plays to change the stories we believe in because it’s the best way I know to change the world we live in. I made my professional playwriting debut at the age of twenty-four with the 1981 production of my one-act play “The Story,” a reimagining of the Book of Genesis, at the Magic Theatre of San Francisco. Since then, my plays have been broadcast on BET (“Gap,” dir. Ryan Coogler, then a graduate student) and NPR (“The Story,” dir. Martin Esslin); staged on five continents; and widely anthologized. I’ve also taught college for thirty years, raised two daughters, and co-founded a feminist theatre company in Berkeley, California. Notable publications include “Medusa’s Tale” in Plays in One Act (Ecco Press); Persephone Underground and The Minotaur, available for licensing from YouthPLAYS; and selections from Gap in the Applause Books anthologies One on One and Duo. My recent full-length plays include The Melting Pot (Everyday Inferno, NYC, 2018) and Witch Hunt (Those Women Productions, Berkeley, 2019), which was recognized by the San Francisco Chronicle as one of the “defining moments” of the year in Bay Area theater. I’m a member of the Dramatists Guild, the International Centre for Women Playwrights, and Honor Roll! an advocacy group for women+ playwrights over 40.
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MORE ABOUT ME
In the winter of 2007, I was invited to spend 10 days in residence at Peking University in Beijing. The students in the English Drama Society were staging a double bill of my one-act plays "Medusa's Tale" and "Persephone Underground," performing in English with Mandarin subtitles. It was wonderful to see how these plays - inspired by Ancient Greek mythology and written by me, an American woman born in 1956 - captured the imaginations of young Chinese men and women in the 21st century. Some elements did not cross cultures well. For example, in "Persephone Underground," the teenaged Persephone yearns to break away from the influence of her powerful mother; the PKU students did not particularly relate to that desire. But they connected very powerfully to my portrait of the young Medusa and her discovery that she cannot trust the goddess of justice to protect her. After each performance, there was a talkback and the students became intensely engaged in discussing the issues raised by the plays - questions of justice and authority, love and betrayal, gender and power. It seemed that they were freed by these mythic stories to talk about matters (for example, rape) that were ordinarily cloaked in silence. That was my most gratifying experience as a playwright.
WHAT I'M WORKING ON
My most recent full-length play in progress is Doing School:
Spring 2019 at a high school near you: the students are stressed and chugging Dayquil. Or they’ve withdrawn in the face of stereotypes and prejudices. The teachers? Pretty much the same. DOING SCHOOL (formerly titled GAP) tells the stories of four high school juniors and their teachers, affected in different ways by their class, race, and gender. They are going through the motions at a diverse public high school in a progressive American city, a microcosm of the speeded-up world beyond the school bounds. Interrupted by bells and buffeted by competing demands on their time, they strive to live up to – or sometimes down to – the expectations of others. As they navigate an uneven playing field, they risk losing themselves. What will save them? Better “Time Management”! … Or maybe not. Maybe there’s another way to close the gap between who they wish they were and who they have time to be. Maybe there's a way to rescue each other?
Cast: 4W, 3M. Run time: about 90 mins.
Mythology, Justice, Equality, Gender and Power, Jewish, American History, Teen Performers
Honor Roll ! Members Profiles Project