Feminism simply means paying attention to women. Men as well as women can be feminist. So how does this apply to drama? Most plays post1970 were about heroes villains etc. women such as Caryl Churchill and Pam Gems started to change this by writing plays about women and about the social aspects of being a women. This means that women were trying to change theatre to involve the social and everyday aspects of being a woman. Also controversial assets and serious assets of being a women were involved in these plays such as women being equal to men etc.
Male playwrights have mostly dominated the last century and the star role-played by males. However towards the end of the 60’s women started to slowly do their own playwrights and perform their own plays. The modern feminist theatre movement began late 60’s. Their goal was to bring women and their experiences out of the domestic sphere and into the social one. This also encouraged a whole new load of drama groups and company’s devoted to feminist drama, such as The Monstrous Regiment, Joint Stock and Women’s Theatre Season.
A few women have become well known for their plays that have furthered feminist performance theory and broadened traditional views of gender roles. Caryl Churchill: Caryl Churchill’s plays were based around feminine theory and gender politics. However she did not start straight away by writing plays, as this was a transition from the radio plays she wrote for the BBC and also other shorter plays and scenes where she starting to explore a bit more on different aspects of drama that freed her from the stage “limitations”. In the early 1970’s she collaborated with theatre groups such as the monstrous regiment and also joint stock.
Both these groups were utilising an extending workshop period in their development of new plays. These groups were a big impact on Caryl Churchill and helped her development as a playwright. While with these groups she wrote a number of good plays such as Light shining on Buckinghamshire (1976) and Vinegar Tom (1976). As a result of her experience and imagination for new plays in this genre she was awarded three OBE’s and continues to be a well-known playwright. Pam Gems: Pam Gems was also a woman who started to change the “limitations” of the stage.
She was born in England and brought up four children before she turned to play wrighting. She was involved in the Women’s Theatre Season at the Almost Free (1975). Her welknown and great West End play and success came from studying four women who all lived in a flat in London Dusa, Fish, Stas and Via (1977). She was also involved in The Royal Shakespeare Company. Vinegar Tom: This play was written by Caryl Churchill and is about witchcraft and a glimpse at how fear can lead to innocent death. The play follows four women on a journey from nai?? ve innocence to there untimely executions.
This play is one of Caryl Churchill’s best and was quite original when it was first produced. It is a good example of how plays started to change through the feminist genre. The roles played by the four women were non-typical for women to play; this also shows how the move of feminist theatre had began. Dusa, Fish, Stas and Vi: This play written by Pam Gems in 1977 is about four women ( Dusa, Fish, Stas and Vi) who have split up with their men or husbands and are trying to pull their lives back together in a London flat. It is a comedy drama. Some scenes are described as hilarious and others affecting.
The four women try to comfort and help each other throughout the play and trying to find the sense of purpose and individuality that can so easily elude women in contemporary society. Again this play is a good example of how women in this genre were trying to show how a women’s social life could be involved in plays. As you can see during 1970-1990 feminist drama grew and and is now accepted and women playwrights are as good as any others. Also feminist drama opened up many new aspects of the theatre and now there are many plays that involve feminist ideas and performances.