The answer is... 28!
Rachel Crothers had 28 different plays produced on Broadway between 1910 and 1943, many of which she also directed herself.
SarahLouis XIVDuchess of HapsburgJesus
The answer is... Louis XIV!
Funnyhouse tells the story of a young black woman named Sarah who lives in New York City. The play focuses on Sarah's internal struggle with her racial identity. She is grappling with her feelings about her mixed ancestry—she worships her white mother and despises her black father. Kennedy transforms the stage into a manifestation of Sarah's mind, and she uses various historical figures as representations of Sarah's black and white heritage. These character's are described as extensions of Sarah's self. The figures include Queen Victoria, the Duchess of Hapsburg, Patrice Lumumba, and Jesus Christ.
The answer is... spy!
Aphra Behn left London in 1665 for the Netherlands as a spy for the King and returned in 1666. During her time in the Netherlands, Behn warned King Charles about the impending Dutch attack on London, but her warning was ignored.
Mary ChaseSophie TreadwellSusan GlaspellLillian Hellman
The answer is... Sophie Treadwell!
Best known for her play Machinal, Treadwell was an extremely prolific playwright, as well as a novelist and journalist. She was a suffragette and advocated throughout her career for author's rights.
Women's educationMexican independenceRights for indigenous peoplesReligious freedom
The answer is... women's education!
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz is one of the most famous female scholars of the Latin American colonial period. She currently appears on Mexican currency and was an early advocate for a woman’s right to an education. She is credited as one of the first feminists of the New World.
Leave the United StatesCommit suicideAbstain from having childrenSeek revenge on her community
The answer is... abstain from having children!
Rachel learns of the racism that American children of color suffer at school and resolves never to have her own children. In so doing, she must reject the love of the man who courts her: her brother's friend, John Strong.
The answer is... 5!
The following plays by women received the Pulitzer for Drama before 1960: Miss Lulu Bett by Zona Gale (1921), Alison's House by Susan Glaspell (1931), The Old Maid by Zoe Akins (1935), Harvey by Mary Chase (1945), and Looking Homeward, Angel by Ketti Frings (1958).
The answer is... Delaborde!
Sand's real name was Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin. (Delaborde was the maiden name of her mother, Sophie-Victoire.) Sand often performed the plays she wrote in a small theater on her grandmother's estate in France.
The MysteryThe Social CallMr. DarcyA Divine Comedy
The answer is... The Mystery!
At only two pages long, The Mystery is a comic riff on the trope of stage secrets. Eight characters spend the short play winking and dropping abstract hints to the audience and to each other, but in the end, nothing material is revealed to anyone onstage or off. Austen's early writings reveal the same interest in social critique that would become the backbone of her novels.
Hrotsvitha of GandersheimAbbess Hildegard of BingenChristine de PizanMargaret of Beverley
The answer is... Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim!
The 10th-century Saxon canoness Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim boldly translated her own name to mean ‘a clarion voice’. She is credited as the first medieval playwright, first female playwright, first female German poet, and first female German historian. Hrotsvitha was strongly aware that her gender made her less likely to be taken seriously in her contemporary society so she claimed that her writing was divinely inspired by God.
The answer is... $10,000!
After receiving the check from the insurance company, Mama puts some of the money down on a new house, choosing an all-white neighborhood over a black one because it's cheaper. Later she relents and gives the rest of the money to her son Walter to invest, with the provision that he reserve $3,000 for her daughter Beneatha's education.
John Houseman's directionThe use of cellophane in the set designThe singing of the stage directionsThe portrayal of the European saints by a choir of black performers
The answer is... the portrayal of the saints by an all-black choir!
Though all of the elements above featured in the groundbreaking production, there was no precedent in American history for an all-black cast. These unconventional elements led to a successful and well-received first production. While critics were divided, audiences accepted the fantasy world created by the singers, who vividly conveyed the words and melodies given to their saintly characters.
A plagiarism scandalA desire to hide her gender from the publicHer already significant fame made claiming the plays unimportant to herShe went into hiding because of religious persecution
The answer is... a plagiarism scandal!
In the season of 1697–1698, Pix became involved in a plagiarism scandal with George Powell. Powell was a rival playwright and the manager of the Drury Lane theatrical company. Pix sent her play The Deceiver Deceived to Powell's company as a possible drama for them to perform. Powell rejected the play but kept the manuscript and then proceeded to write and perform a play called The Imposture Defeated, which had a plot and main character taken directly from The Deceiver Deceived.
Frances Hodgson BurnettKate ChopinJane AustenEmily Dickinson
The answer is... Emily Dickinson!
In Alison's House, It is the final day of the 19th century, and the last day the Stanhope family will spend in their home. While they are packing up their belongings, a reporter arrives inquiring about the late Alison Stanhope, a renowned poet. The family finds themselves thinking of Alison as they have not in years – how her fame affected the family’s reputation, and how they learned from her as an aunt and sister. Once again they are faced with the question of whether Alison truly belongs to them, or whether she belongs to the world. The play won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1931.
Langston HughesNella LarsenClaude McKayW.E.B Du Bois
The answer is... Langston Hughes!
Hughes and Hurston began writing Mule Bone in March 1930. They wanted to write a comedy about African-American life that didn't consist of racial stereotypes. The two writers dictated their work to Louise Thompson, who typed it. Their work was almost completed in June, when Hurston went away for the summer. She took her notes and said she would return in the fall, and they could finish the play. When Hurston came back, she would not return telephone calls from Hughes. She felt he wanted Thompson to be considered a third collaborator in the project, a proposal to which she strongly objected. In January 1931, Hughes found that a copy of Mule Bone had been sent to the Gilpin Players, an all-black theatre company in Cleveland, for their consideration—bearing only Hurston's name.The copy of Mule Bone in the Langston Hughes papers at Yale University has a hand-written notation by Hughes: "This play was never done because the authors fell out."
How Well Do You Know Your Historic Women Playwrights?
There are so many more plays by amazing women to read and get inspired by. Get cracking! You won't be disappointed!
You're well on your way to knowing these ladies backwards and forwards. Dig a little deeper and you'll find that the plays are as important as the groundbreaking women who wrote them!
You are a lady playwright connoisseur! Keep the history alive and help us advocate for the inclusion of more historic plays by women in college classrooms and on stages!