By Kendall Buzzelli
In 2018, have we reached a new era in voices of American theatre? Women make up roughly 66% of Broadway audiences; but we continually search for female representation in all other theatrical aspects, concerned specifically about the continual exclusion of female playwrights season after season. With acclaimed screenwriter and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage joining us at Wharton Center on April 2, I decided to search for other female playwrights blazing the path toward diversity on and off the stage. These four women are envisioning a more diverse future for theatre through their work.
First on my list is the one and only Lynn Nottage.
In anticipation of her appearance at Wharton Center, I learned more about the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning Ms. Nottage as a playwright and voice for the African and African-American modern woman, and the American working class. All of Nottage’s work has immense dedication to research and involves important topics in today’s society. Her latest play, Sweat, is based in largely working-class Reading, Pennsylvania, and deals with American labor rights and racial equality, played out when a local factory shuts down. Sweat has been celebrated for its raw ability to explain the exasperation and alienation of the working class at a time of trial.
Next up, Paula Vogel.
Like Nottage, Paula Vogel is a Pulitzer-Prize winner for her 1997 Off-Broadway play, How I Learned to Drive. Paula Vogel is also a professor of writing, and she had Lynn Nottage as a student at Brown University. Vogel’s most recent play, Indecent, premiered at the Yale Repertory Theater, eventually making its way to Broadway to win two Tony Awards®. Indecent tells the story of the controversy around Sholem Asch’s 1923 premiere of God of Vengeance, where two women kissed on stage, and the entire cast was arrested for obscenity. The play incorporates elements of traditional Yiddish theatre with music and dancing, while the loom of the Holocaust and American anti-semitism lingers.
A Roundabout Theatre Company favorite, Meghan Kennedy.
Two of her plays (Two Much, Too Many and Napoli, Brooklyn) have premiered on Roundabout’s Off-Broadway stages and have gotten great reviews across the board. She is now transferring into the world of writing for screen in NBC’s new television series Rise, a show about a high school theatre program.
Martyna Majok has made her mark on the American theatre community by giving a voice to the invisible. A Polish immigrant herself, her new play, queens, premiering at Lincoln Center Theatre, deals with the conundrum of assimilation and conformity among generations of immigrants in the United States.
See Lynn Nottage at Wharton Center on Monday, April 2, at 7:30. She’ll be talking about her work and life as a playwright. Tickets are FREE for MSU students, staff and faculty with valid ID by visiting the Wharton Center Ticket Office. Tickets are only $24 for the general public.
As a companion event to Lynn Nottage’s appearance, a staged reading of scenes from Sweat will take place on Tuesday, March 27, 7 pm, at the UAW Hall Local 652 (426 Clare St, Lansing, MI). This event is free to the public. For more information, contact John Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org.