Female Playwrights, Playwrights of the Past

A Thanksgiving Dream by Effa Estelle Preston

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Hello everyone and welcome back to Unknown Playwrights. Someone just beat up NaNoWriMo, so I can write a little bit about our favorite theatrical genre: really bad children’s plays based on American holidays. And we’re throwing in some Thanksgiving postcards, too.

We covered a lot of the origins of Thanksgiving in last year’s post. Basically, it’s an excuse to eat as much turkey as humanly possible and write internet articles about getting into a knife fight with relatives over you-know-who:

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Meanwhile, if you’re the president, you just go ahead and make stuff up.

Horrible Thanksgiving plays are a safer alternative to either one of these options. A Thanksgiving Dream may as well be a nightmare with all the madness going on here. The play was written by Effa Estelle Preston:

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Just like it says.

Let’s check out the characters:

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If we had Thanksgiving goblins when I was a kid, I may have actually liked the holiday.

Our hero Jack has just eaten “a dandy meal.”

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And like any normal kid from 1922, his dream is full of Pilgrim Maids.

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The maids have established that the Native Americans were their friends. But Fourth Pilgrim Maiden is a little psychopath:

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“I shot him as he ran away. They found him just outside.”

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The love that dare not speak its name. And the moon watching…

The play also neglects to tell us how Native Americans in the area obtained firearms prior ro the arrival of said Pilgrims.

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Fifth Pilgrim Maid is simply a watered-down version of the Fourth. Scaring people with “Jack-Lanterns.”

Massoit was totally a real person.

One advantage the Pilgrims had when they landed, was that they were greeted by a Native American who already spoke English, thus setting up their descendants to be too lazy to learn any foreign language forever.

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Probably Jack…the Ripper.

Some turkeys show up.

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They do have a point.

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OMG. The turkeys are gonna eat plump Jack!

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Again, they have a point.

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That’s a butterknife…

And then the goblins show up:

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Sorry, Jack. The damage has been done.

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Told you it was a nightmare.

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The goblins pinched him to death…

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A word to the wise: Don’t devour your friends!

This video has the original song (sorta) for Old Black Joe. For a song about a slave’s dying last words, it seems awfully happy:

 

And there you have A Thanksgiving Nightmare Dream.

But seriously, the absolute best part of the play is the list of available monologues on the back cover:

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As thrilling as Susan Gets Ready for Church sounds, as Hallmark Channel-ly I’m Engaged might be, as fun as Gladys Reviews the Dance obviously is, my money is on Ask Ouija when it comes to sheer wholesome entertainment.

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Effa Estelle Preston wrote a lot of plays. Normally, I’d list every single play, but she had at least 91 published playlets. Some of the highlights follow:

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From 1939.
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1930’s A Christmas Strike

 

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From 1937. Probably better than when my high school did Seinfeld sketches.
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The Fall Guy must be jealous. 1945
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Some light bondage at the North Pole.
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Random trivia: this exact building now houses one of my favorite newspapers.
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Not only was it popular,it was 454 pages long.

You can find several of Preston’s plays on archive.org and Gutenberg.org.

I couldn’t find out much about Ms. Preston, except she was born in 1884 in New Jersey and also died there at age 91 in 1975. She seems to have spent her working life as a public school teacher. On various census records, she’s listed as living with her mother, up to at least age 45. At one point she and her mother took in other female teachers as boarders. She doesn’t seem to have ever married. She did take a trip to France in 1929. I’d love to know more about her life.

In case you thought Thanksgiving plays were a thing of the past, we now give you this from like a week ago:

 

The antidote to the deluge of Thanksgiving plays might be The Thanksgiving Play by Lakota playwright Larissa FastHorse. Here is Ms. FastHorse talking about her wonderful play:

 

 

 

Female Playwrights, Playwrights of the Past, Unknown playwrights

A Hallowe’en Adventure by Effie Louise Koogle

Howdy all! Happy Halloween! Welcome back to Unknown Playwrights. This Halloween (just like last Halloween) we’re bringing you a Halloween play from the era of when tricks were given more than treats.

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From 1905. Honestly, thisis probably more interesting than our play. Apparently “hold-up” is a game. And two of the boys were dressed as girls. And one kid shot the other. All here.
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Also 1905. In Salt Lake City.

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1906. Dude literally scared someone to death.

They also had cooler postcards, too.

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OMG.

Let’s see what we’re up against today.

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Fair enough. I’ve done a lot of looking online and I can’t find a whole lot about the author. She was born in 1869 and died in 1947. She seems to have spent her whole life in Ohio. She had six brothers and sisters. The most interesting thing to me is that amongst 5 girls in the family only one seems to have married. And among all the sibllings, it seems only one or two married. I wish I knew what that was about. Even the Brontë sisters got married. More on Koogle later. Let’s meet our cast.

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Tarrytown…yes, that Tarrytown. Let’s check out the scenes:

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Poor Nell has been stuck in her room for a week. She’s been grounded – apparently seminaries  could ground their female students back in 1906. She was grounded for a “prank” and she’s got three days left on her sentence. Her friends Verda, Bess, Gloria, Gail, Freida & Gwendolin show up. Nell has been “ill” with a headache. She tells them not to worry…

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Don’t worry or them wrinkles will get you! Also, it’s wrong to be hypocritical and hypercritical.

The girls decide they should do something spooky for Halloween, but Bess sees a problem.

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She has a point. I love that the boys they’re after are seminary boys.

Nell suggests they go to…Sleepy Hollow.

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Bess reminds us of who lives in Sleepy Hollow.

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This dude lives there.

And boys…

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These guys seem cool.

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Take note: Fictional male characters in 1906 Halloween plays want a woman as handsome as she is venturesome.

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Miss Noesome’s seminary gals are the finest! And Glo Gould is a whole sugarplum!

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Pictured: Glo among her cohorts.

In what appears to be the prelude to a hazing ritual, the “ghosts” show up to obey their ghost master.

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Moans, groans and hisses…

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More hazing. Nell is then asked her name.

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I like how the description of the ghost sounds devolve to “Moans, etc. (Emphatic)”

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Time to tie up the girls (and Tom)! The boys/ghosts take them to the cave.

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Did she say beautiful cave? I know the most beautiful cave in the world.

And hot damn! Napoleon shows up and so does Rip Van Winkle.

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This dork…
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…meets this dork. Sadly, they don’t have a baby.

And amongst the ghosts of fictional and real-life people, a goddamned German doctor shows up. Because. Because? Oh, he wants their blood!

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“Vat iss dies sch*t? Vat die aktuelle fock?”

And Major André shows up.

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Sometimes dying for your country looks like this.

 

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“Young folks laugh” = play was written by an old person. And that other inhabitant of Sleepy Hollow pops up.

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Pictured: Sleepy Hollow’s most ballinist player: Ichabod Crane.

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Hells yeah!!!!

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Among the ghosts, the Headless Horseman is a loser. Hehe.

And for some reason a Native American female shows up. Maybe she’s a ghost because of all the Native Americans white Americans killed.

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And I know “squaw” is an offensive term that isn’t even found in any Native American language. But it’s found in this sad little play.

Eventually, the girls get scared and go back to their seminary.

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I was right about the hazing, which has killed a ton of people over the years.

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“IT WAS WORTH WHILE TO CLASH WITS WITH GIRLS OF THEIR CALIBER!”

This has several tropes in common with last year’s Halloween play.

  1. Boys dressing up like ghosts to scare girls. No gun in this one and no cross-dressing.
  2. Girls going to a “haunted” place wanting to be scared.
  3. No actual supernatural stuff.

Apparently, this was really performed at one time. The Koreshan Unity utopian community in Estero, Florida had a copy of this play in its papers.

I want to thank the folks at the state archives of Florida for scanning this play for me. So very, very kind of them.

Ms. Koogle was rather prolific in the early 1900s. Her output includes plays and sheet music.

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Pray Observe, We Must Conserve. 

1902: Ethics for Young People

1904: Twas Thee! Twas Thou! And This I Avow!

1906: The heir of Mt. Vernon

1906: Cupid’s Joke

1906: A Colonial Minuet

1906: Just After Christmas

1907: Up-to-date America: Or the Sweet Girl Graduate’s Dream

1908: Kris Kringle Jingles

1909: The Christmas Collation

1909: The Thanksgiving Songster

1912: The Buzzville News

1918: A bunch of rah-rah America stuff for WWI. And here.

1940: Ready for Kisses

Not sure the year on this, but Effie Louise Koogle just became very interesting:

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Uhhh.

If anyone has any information about Ms. Koogle, please let me know.

Thanks for reading and please check out last years’s Halloween play

And here’s a song about The Headless Horseman, by the Monotones (famous for their Book of Love)

 

 

 

 

Female Playwrights, Playwrights of the Past

Hennie Raché

Unknown Playwrights is finally back posting about…unknown playwrights! Following a summer of deviant debauchery diligent study, the exciting world of unknown theatre comes alive.

This week we feature our first German-language playwright. No, it isn’t Schiller, Goethe  or Brecht. I know, I know…Germany has actually produced more than three playwrights.

Our playwright’s name is Hennie Raché and she was born Hennie Fock in Hamburg in 1876. She married the writer Paul Raché in the early 1900s.

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Our playwright…

Finding any online works of hers was difficult. The extant one act play I found pretty much has one thing to recommend it: a very evil villain. In fact we could coin the word “evillain.”

The play is entitled Belsazar. It draws upon the Biblical story of Belshazzar. For those unfamiliar with the story, Belshazzar was a Neo-Babylonian king. Previously, the Babylonians had defeated Judah and looted the Temple in Jerusalem. In the book of Daniel, Belshazzar has a big party and uses the cups from the Temple. God doesn’t like this. A hand writes something the wall. Belshazzar freaks out. All his wise men can’t read it. But Jewish captive Daniel can. He saves the day by explaining the meaning.

“MENE, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; TEKEL, you have been weighed … and found wanting;” and “PERES, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”

Note: this where the English idioms “the writing on the wall” and “have been weighed…and found wanting” come from.

Belshazzar rewards Daniel, but is killed that night and the Persians take over his kingdom.

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Belshazzar’s feast, according to the film Intolerance (1916). I doubt Raché’s one-act on the Hamburg stage looked much like this.

The Biblical story provides the skeleton of the play.

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Things ae getting pretty wild here at Unknown Playwrights. Should that illustration be our new logo?

But Raché has made this a play a conflict between Belsazar and a Jewish female captive named Rahel. It’s pretty melodramatic, and not in a Sirkian way, either.

The only points worth exploring in this post that might be beneficial to other playwrights are:

  1. How thoroughly evil Belsazar is.
  2. How does the Queen react to Belsazar getting all rapey with Rahel?

Belsazar is talking to his military aide Issar:

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Belsazar: It’s good, Issar. Then the party should begin. But before that one more thing: Tell me, where is the Jew, who you have captured because she does not want to worship Baal and Astarte?

Issar: She is here, King. I left them under the care of two soldiers.

Belsazar: No harm done to her?

Issar: No, sir, she is intact and her defiance is unbroken.

Belsazar (pensive): She was beautiful, the Jewish woman – she pleased my eyes well … (to Issar): Go, Issar and bring her here to me … maybe I’ll succeed, what you can not do. Go, let her come.

[I’ve chosen to translate the feminine noun Jüdin as “Jewish woman” and sometimes “Jew” because “Jewess” sounds like something Trump would say. But there is an opposing viewpoint about that word. ]

[And…”maybe I’ll succeed” – sure hope you don’t. Primo douchiness, right here]

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Two soldiers bring in Rahel. She has magnificent flowing strawberry-blonde hair. Her loose robe is white. She stops a bit to the right of the canopy. The king waves for the two soldiers to leave.

Belsazar (looks at Rahel for a long time): Do you not know how to greet a king?

Rahel: Like every human. I bowed my head as I entered. (short break)

Belsazar: You are one of the Jewish women brought here from Judea?

Rahel: It’s as you say!

Belsazar: You do not like to be here?

Rahel (bitterly laughing): Like?! I curse the moment I had to leave home, and I curse the hour when my eyes saw Babylon. (short pause) The life of the captivity seems to me unbearable!

Belsazar (somewhat mocking): But – you live?

Rahel (rigidly): I live! I am waiting for the hour when the Lord God will redeem us out of your hands! I live and wait for the hour that will make you our servants!

[One way to make a tough villain is (obviously) to have a tough protagonist.]

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Belsazar (smiling): You will have to wait a long time! The gold of your hair will bleach, your eyes will be closed for a long time, and still Judah will be a part of Babylon!

Rahel (heartfelt): Our God will not let his punishment last forever. He will be gracious to his children!

Belsazar: Your God? – You have been found sacrificing to your god.

Rahel: I did it.

Belsazar: Do not you know that the penalty for it is death?

Rahel: I know it. I do not fear death.

Belsazar (smiling): Maybe not death. But there are tortures that make even the most fearless shudder. Remember that, proud Jew!

Rahel: I’m not afraid of the pain either!

[Jeesh, you mean her strawberry blonde is gonna go full blonde because she’ll be dead and the sun will bleach her hair??? So cruel.

And if she isn’t afraid of death, I doubt she’s gonna fear pain. I mean, what’s the point?]

Here Belsazar tries out the “getting-to-know-you” routine. He learns her name is Rahel.

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“Hey, this isn’t proper stageplay format! The name indents more than the dialogue” saith every theatre ever in 2019.

Belsazar: Rahel … Who is your father?

Rahel: Joshua, the rabbi – you killed him.

Belsazar: I remember. He also sacrificed to his god and was burned. (musing) What god is he for whom you suffer death and torture? Tell me, is he a god of love?

Rahel (loud, convinced): He is a god of revenge! And he will crush those who blaspheme and deny him!

So Belsazar, with all the smoothness of Donald Trump a creepy old dude who’s gotten his way his whole life tries to convince Rahel by pointing out the hedonistic virtues of Baal.

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Belsazar: A God of Vengeance? A miserable god! (He gets up and walks down the two steps, stops in front of Rahel) Shall I tell you about our gods? Do you want to hear about Baal and Astarte? They are gods of love – shall I tell you, Rahel? Shall I tell you about the gardens of love in which Baal sits enthroned and gives a thousand joys to those who serve him? Would you like to become a priestess of the Astarte? Do you know how sweet the love is and how full of bliss the dizziness of the senses? – Look at me, Rachel, shall I tell you about love? Shall I teach you how to serve Baal and Baaltis, our gods? – I will be a good teacher, Rahel, for I have been in the gardens of love for a long time! – You will be a goddess in my arms, Rahel, we shall be like Baal and Astarte … my love shall warm you like the sun and you will desire her as you desire for the light of the sun … ( urgently) Look at me, Rahel … (he wants to take her hands)

[He wants to be her “teacher” because he’s hung out in the “gardens of love” for a long time. No thanks.]

Later he offers her to be his queen. Surprise, surpeise, she turns him down.

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 Rahel (with contempt): Do you believe that you can buy Rahel’s love for a throne and purple? Verily, you judge the pride of the Jew low! Are the women of your people for sale for a handful of gold? And me? O you, whom I respect no more than the dog that lies at the threshold of my house!

Belsazar (uttering a hissing sound of rage, slowly approaches Rahel and stops in front of her, hissing): If you do not fear death and pain, I will torment your soul until it dies in your womb. Should not my power be stronger than your defiance? (he approaches the curtain) Hey, Issar!

Okay, so “hissing sound of rage” might’ve been scarier in 1904 Hamburg than in 2019 Internet. But threatening to “torment your soul until it dies in your womb” is a bit much.

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Belsazar (hissing to Rahel): Woman! I will defile the altar that you have built in the heart of your God!

Rahel wants to leave. [I do not blame her]

Belsazar: Stay! You should stay! I will look for the place where I can wound your proud heart! And if you do not want to give me your love, let your pain be my lust.

[Some women do like a “bad boy” but this is venturing into Idi Amin territory now]

So Belsazar has his little party.

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This party.
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Last month’s church social.

He invites Rahel to sing. You can guess how that goes.

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Belsazar: You don’t want to? Should I loosen your tongue so that it becomes as pliant as a snake’s tongue? – Should I pour molten lead into your throat to make it supple? Maybe you can sing then?

Rahel (proud): Do as you like!

Belsazar (to the people): Do you hear the Jewish woman? She has the courage of a lioness. Do you see how she shows the claws? Oh, I like that!

[Belsazar certainly is one vicious bastard. And he goes after emotionally unavailable women.]

Now the king drinks from the Temple cups. Rahel refuses to do so. One cool thing Rahel does is that when Belsazar orders his wives to drink from the cups, Rahel convinces them not to, thus sparing his wives from the God’s wrath.

The mysterious words are written. Belsazar freaks. He calls his wise men. They know nothing. The queen shows up. Doesn’t say anything about his rapey ways, but she does suggest Daniel can interpret the writing. Yes, that Daniel.

Daniel pops in and tells Belsazar what’s up. Belsazar doesn’t like what he hears (that he’ll lose his kingdom and die). He goes into a tizzy, lashing out at his minions, Daniel and Rahel. He also says:

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“Oh Prophet, your words were cheap…Jew, I laugh at you”

A couple things here:

  1. I dunno if it’s the zeitgeist, but in 1901 the German playwright Hermann Sudermann published a tragedy about John the Baptist. It contained this line: Screen Shot 2019-09-04 at 1.26.15 PMHerodias: You see, I laugh at you, you great Prophet! (She laughs) [Did German theatre had a thing for laughing at prophets then?]
  2. This is the Charles Bronson moment in the play. The villain does something and you know he’s got approximately 10 seconds to live.

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Rahel (drowning out the noise in a strong voice): Kill him! Kill him! He cursed God! (the peasants attack Belsazar, who extends his hands defensively) Kill him, kill him, the wicked man the Lord has marked! Kill the Blasphemer!

Belsazar (in a horrified voice): Rahel!

Rahel (again, drowning everything): Kill him!

Belsazar sinks to death on the steps of the throne.

Rahel lets out a loud cry of triumph.

Curtain.

[Curtain indeed]

Yay God! Yay Jews! Boo hissing rapey misogynistic anti-Semitic rulers of Neo-Babylonia.

This was the only play of Raché’s I could find online. It was performed in 1904 at the Thalia Theater in Hamburg (the theatre has been there since 1843!). It was then published in a theatre periodical, Bühne und Welt. This is really an amazing resource for early 20th Century German theatre.

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Look at the artistry involved. This is the cover of the bound volume containing Belsazar.
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Holy hair rollers, 1904 Germany!!! (from inside the above volume)

Bio: adapted from her obituary.

Hennie Raché was born as Henni Fock on August 15, 1876 in Hamburg. She was an orphan by age 16 and worked as an educator and tutor.

She published some poems and short stories in her hometown’s Hamburger Fremdenblatt. This brought her to the attention of editor Paul Raché. They married at the end of 1900. She achieved success quickly. Her plays were performed in Hamburg and even overseas. She became sick in October 1904. The disease was pronounced incurable. She suffered with admirable patience and fortitude before succumbing on June 18, 1906 at the age of 30.

Links….

Her life:

German Wikipedia

Obituary

Her work:

Several poems.

Liebe (a novel) 1901 [Love]

Nocturno. Pathologische Liebesgeschichten 1902 [Pathaological Love Stories]

Über der Liebe (full-length play) 1902 [About Love]

Die Scham. Geschichte zweier Ehen. 1903 [The shame. The history of two marriages]

Das heilige Leben (play) 1903 [The Holy Life]

Ecce Ego [play] 1902.

Belsazar (one act play) 1904.

Das Gasthaus zum deutschen Michel. 1905. [The Guesthouse of German Michel]

Töff-Töff. (one act play) 1906

Female Playwrights, Playwrights of the Past, Unknown playwrights

Mary Pix

The 1690s. The London stage, much like Britain itself, was in a state of flux and turmoil. The merry ways of the Restoration, along with its sex comedies, had changed. James II had died without an heir. Rebellions sprung up. A Dutch king was imported and local and foreign wars increased.

Meanwhile, the theatre in London’s mainstays were becoming less popular. While people are unsure of the reason (it could be that people’s tastes simply changed over a generation – how many people remember Kim Cattrall from Porky’s vs. that one show).

Carving out a living as a playwright was just as precarious as now, it seems. There were a few ways one could make a living as a playwright. One was to be the resident playwright with a yearly contract. John Dryden did this. Another was to get the elusive commission. Thomas Shadwell had a couple of these.

The other way was to simply submit the play to the theatre. This still didn’t guarantee payment, as the play had to run three performances before the writer got paid  – from the profit of the third night. After the theatre’s expenses for that night had been cleared. In the beginning of the Restoration, they were paid ONLY on the third night. However, by the 1690s they had negotiated payment on every third night. One imagines they would’ve pressed their friends to go, kinda like when one’s playwright friends in New York send you a Facebook invite you to their play when you’re in, say, Bekasi.

After the play’s initial run, the play entered the theatre company’s repertory. Residuals and copyright fees were totally not a thing. All chances of making money from a new play died after the final curtain of the final performance. How depressing.

I should also mention that nearly all plays were written by dudes and the theatre, as with society, was dominated by men. True, women were allowed (gee, thanks) onstage after the Restoration, but their presence provoked more lurid rape scenes and of course the breeches role. Naturally, by the 21st Century everything is peachy in modern English-speaking theatre.

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Yes, “breeches role” is my browsing history now. Photo from here.

Mary Pix seemed to have the cards stacked against her simply by being born at that moment in history in 1666 in Buckinghamshire. As if living in a creepy, rapey, pre-electricity England wasn’t bad enough, her headmaster father died when she was “very young.” According to the gossip rag known as Wikipedia, she was courted by her dad’s successor, Thomas Dalby, at the school, but he left due to a smallpox epidemic one year after the schoolhouse mysteriously burned down. Slut-shaming Wikipedia was on the scene:

Rumour had it that Mary and Dalby had been making love rather energetically and overturned a candle which set fire to the bedroom.” (You can seriously read the original here.)

Because, you know, banging dad’s replacement and burning down schools when you’re a teenaged girl go hand in hand.  

I reckon she probably got pissed at creeper Tommy and burnt the damn thing down to be rid of him – or at least so he can’t have a work/creep-place.

Mary married (hehe) a merchant at age 18. She had a son who died young. The couple moved to London, had another son and BOOM Pix burst upon the literary scene in 1696 at the age of 30 when she published her only novel, The Inhumane Cardinal and two plays, Ibrahim, thirteenth Emperour of the Turks and The Spanish Wives.

Sadly, The Inhumane Cardinal isn’t an expose of birds committing war crimes.  

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They don’t look cruel. Via this cool site.

Interestingly enough, Pix found success the same year as two other amazing female playwrights, the awesomely-named Delarivier Manley and Catherine Trotter.

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Mary Pix, a badass for all seasons. Via the wiki gods.

But with success comes hatred, and for women, a particularly virulent, penis-having hatred. The success of these three ladies provoked a play, The Female Wits, which attacked them. Pix was portrayed as a fat, ignorant yet kind, oaf named Mrs. Wellfed. Things were less subtle back then. The play was written anonymously, because male bravery knows no bounds.

Pix was connected to The Theatre Royal (currently owned by Andrew Lloyd Webber) until that theatre produced The Female Wits, after which Pix took her talent to the theatre at Lincoln Inn Fields. She seems to have been mentored by the great William Congreve.

In 1697, Pix sent her play The Deceiver Deceiv’d to The Drury Lane Theatre run by rival playwright George Powell. Note to self: Do not send plays to rival playwrights. Second note to self: Find rival playwrights.

He rejected her play and totally produced a play with the same plot. Plagiarism, anyone? There was much “anonymous” letter writing to newspapers and a mini-scandal occurred. However, Pix’ reputation remained intact. But after that, she only attached her name to one other play, though we think she published seven more.

The first play we’ll review is the awesomely-titled Ibrahim, the thirteenth Emperour of the Turks.

Imitation Maltin summary: Spoiled brat/psychopath (and Ibrahim’s favorite mistress) Sheker crushes on stud-soldier Amurat who in turn loves winsome Morena. Sheker unleashes a wave of violence upon everyone in the story, including the titular Ibrahim.

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“You call me MRS. Pix.” Via a great learning tool.

You can also learn about the real Ibrahim. Never a good sign when historians dub you “the Mad.”

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Relatively well-written female characters for the era.
    1. Morena, despite being put upon a pedestal by Amurat, is more or less a fleshed out character, albeit a victim.
    2. Satanic spitfire Sheker is a consistently evil character with clear motivation – she has more depth than the infamous Iago in Othello. She loves and she hates. Almost like a real person. And she ruins people’s lives, almost like my old boss.
    3. Sheker’s slave (and apparently only friend) Mirva and Morena’s slave/buddy Zaida/Zada/Zayda (nobody used spell check back then) serve as brief foils to their mistresses – even they have a bit more depth than what one is used to seeing in the era.
  2. Dialogue and pacing
    1. In general, speech feels more natural than one would imagine.  Much of the dialogue is effective – here is Amurat telling his friend Solyman how much he loves Morena, but also senses Sheker’s danger.

AMURAT

Oh Solyman! forgive the frailty of your Friend,

Forgive the follies that Imperious love creates,

Here the Mufti writes, that on earnest business

He craves my presence, if he hath discover’d

The Adoration that I pay his beauteous Daughter,

And then forbid it, how lost a thing is Amurat,

For I know well, though her poor Slave shou’d suffer

A thousand wracks, she’d tread the rigid paths of Duty,

And let me die, rather than forfeit her obedience.

Here is Sheker, all butthurt that Amurat has rejected her advances and left. Mirva is her slave and Achmet is Ibrahim’s eunuch.

SHEKER

Gone! O Devil!

Keep down, thou swelling Heart!

Or higher rise, that I may tear

Thee with my teeth! Mirva!

Break all the flattering Mirrors!

Let me ne’er behold this rejected Face again!

Have I seen Scepter’d Slaves kneeling

At my feet, forgetting they were Kings,

Forgetful of their Gods, calling alone on me;

Passing whole days and hours as if measur’d

With a Moments Sand, and now refus’d

By a Curst Beardless Boy! my Arms too

Open’d, all my Charms laid forth! (for

The Joys of Love are double, when our

Sex desires) heedless and cold he flew

From my Embrace; swift as I will do

To form his ruine—Achmet! I come!

‘Tis he must raise this raging Tempest higher,

Though cold to me, his Bosom’s sure on fire.

Finally, this is Solyman dishing it out to Ibrahim (who has done something terrible to Morena). Solyman truly is a great friend to Amurat. I love the simple stage direction at the end: “Fight.”

IBRAHIM

Traytors are ever loud—

And to colour their own detested sin

Rebellion; with impudence, and calumnies

Bespatter the Throne, they dare attack.

SOLYMAN

Was there a Slave throughout thy wide

Dominions, whom blind fate had cursed

With Wealth: His forfeit—Head

Pay’d for his crime: Whilst his extorted

Treasure fill’d thy coffers, and supply’d

New Luxury. Did vertue Reign in

Any Man, a life Austere; or active Valour

Like our great Progenitors: Strait you,

And your Minious thought, this lookt

With a Reflecting Eye on your Debauches:

Dispatch’d the pious Wretch, and sent him

To his Friends above; then Women

You monopoliz’d—let her be Wife

Or Virgin, fair as Heaven, or monstrous as Hell:

Witness your Armenian Mistress; all serv’d

As fuel to that consuming fire your Lust;

Nay, even the Relique of our late glorious

Emperour, was not free from your Attempt,

But that her Lion Resolution made your

Coward Heart shrink back.

IBRAHIM

What!—ho!—

Is there none to secure this Traitor?

SOLYMAN

I tell thee, Lost degenerate King,

There’s not a Soul will move a Tongue

Or Finger, in thy Defence; thou standst

Forsook by Heaven, and Human Aid—

Think now upon the fair Morena!

And if thy heart of Adamant unmov’d

Cou’d hear an Angel pray; if the angry Powers

So punish’d her spotless Innocence: What

Horrours must remain for thee; who bend’st

Beneath the weight of thousand thousand Ills?

IBRAHIM

Come on, thou Rebel!—

No Souldier sure thou art!

Thy Tongue’s thy sharpest Weapon—yet

If thou wer’t; and did thy acts excel the

Foremost of my Royal Race; thy Ignoble

Tomb must blush to hold thee, the name of Rebel

Wou’d blot out the Hro, and leave thy Fame

Detest’d, to the honest World; as thou

Hast Represented mine!

SOLYMAN

My injur’d Friend, and that unhappy Beauty

Whom thy Lust hast ruin’d, gives Iustice to

My Javelin’s point, and sends it to thy heart!

Fight.

Combined with well-placed dialogue, the action moves quickly.

  1. Emotion
  1. The characters express their emotions well. I was going to include examples here, but I feel the above dialogue examples work well. It is a very emotional piece.

LOWLIGHTS

  1. The play is ignorant of Ottoman culture, religion and – uh, everything.

Even though The Merchant of Venice continues to be produced, for better or for worse, Ibrahim  is basically “old English people pretending to be Turks” and as such would rightly be deemed offensive by pretty much everyone. However, considering its dramatic, tragic and emotional strength as well as historical significance, there are at least two ways the production could be successful.

  1. Go all out on the Turkish/Islamic/Ottoman culture. Go find a cultural consultant and modify the Hell out of it to suit the 21st Century.
  2. Re-set it somewhere else, for example amongst Mormon polygamists. Note to self: totally write “Ibrahim, 13th Emperor of Utah.” 

OTHERLIGHTS

  1. The ending. The ending is harsh. It’s a tragedy and ends like a tragedy.
  2. The title. It makes me want to see 12 prequels and a possible sequel.
  3. There’s a weird song in the middle of the play, because. Just because.

The second play I planned to read was The Beau Defeated. This play was so impressive that the Royal Shakespeare Company thought it was the bee’s knees this year, so they renamed it and you know the rest. Except I tried to read The Beau Defeated and Bryan Defeated or The Blogger Defeated would be more apt titles. You know those plays that are just people talking? Yep, it’s one of those. I’m assuming they chose the play because it’s been regularly produced elsewhere and it is rather tame – it’s like if Quentin Tarantino wrote an episode of Murder, She Wrote and then everyone would just watch that episode instead of True Romance. Anyways, I couldn’t finish The Beau Defeated. It finished me.

But Mary Pix did write an awesome comedy entitled The Innocent Mistress. The plot is extremely convoluted – much more than Ibrahim. I’m leaving the plot synopsis to a smarter mind, that of Jose M. Yebra in his The Flourishing of Female Playwriting on the Augustan Stage:

The Innocent Mistress is a multiplot play with several interwoven love intrigues.  Sir Charles is married to an older woman, Lady Beauclair, supposedly a  widow, who is very different from the witty heroines of other Restoration plays. In fact, she is presented in the Dramatis Personae, together with her daughter Peggy, as “an ill-bred woman”. Her marriage to Sir Charles cannot work  since it is just the product of socio-economic interests. Being Sir Charles a younger brother with no estate, and Lady Beauclair a wealthy woman, Sir Charles’ friends and family induce him to marry her. At the end of the play, we learn that the marriage  is not valid for two reasons. Because it has not been consummated and because Lady Beauclair’s first husband, Mr Flywife, is alive and back to London after several years of voluntary exile in Jamaica. The re-encounter of Mr Flywife and Lady Beauclair makes Sir Charles free to marry Bellinda, his niece’s friend, whom he has been courting throughout the play. Bellinda, whose real name is Marianne, lives at Mrs  Beauclair’s (Sir Charles’ niece) under an assumed name after having escaped from a forced marriage. Mrs Beauclair, presented in the dramatis personae as “an independent woman”, fulfils and updates, together with Sir Francis Wildlove, the “happy couple” stereotype of Restoration comedies. The plot turns around Mrs Beauclair’s attempts to reform Sir Francis from his initial rakishness  to his final “faithfulness”. His reform process is slow. The rake only changes his attitude and reveals his true feelings for Mrs Beauclair when, due to a misunderstanding, he thinks she has married another man. Another couple is formed by Beaumont and Arabella. The former is, like Sir Charles, a character with an “incorruptible” morality, whom Bellinda’s father has sent to find her after her brother’s death. Arabella, her father thinks, has her fortune and person controlled by Lady Beauclair and her stupid brother Cheatall. Once Arabella is liberated with the help of Lady Beauclair’s servant Eugenia, she can marry Beaumont. There is yet another marrying couple at the end, Lady Beauclair’s “ill-bred” daughter, Peggy, and the social parasite Mr Spendall, who tricks both mother and daughter into believing he is a man of quality with a fortune to  inherit. Once Mr Flywife comes back and Peggy’s fortune –the only reason for Spendall’s interest in marrying her– fades away, Peggy is punished with a lazy husband with no fortune. Likewise, Mr Spendall must deal with an ill-bred girl with no properties so far. Finally, even the servants Eugenia and Gentil marry just the way their “betters” do, thus following Roman comedy tradition. Only Mrs Flywife (the mistress of Mr Flywife while in Jamaica) is left outside the marriage fair. We learn that both have been living together, but Mr Flywife, after his first experience, prefers not to marry again. Thus, when they are back in London, the former has to live with Lady Beauclair again, and the second becomes the odd one out in the comedy happy ending.

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From a USC production in 2001. Via here.

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. This play is beyond funny. It’s kinda like a 17th Century pervy sitcom taking satire pills. That is the beauty of this work – it comes on the heels of the anonymous attack on Pix, Trotter and Manley. A heck of a punchback against the misogyny of the theatre. In punching back, it cranks the hyperbole up to “atomic” and KA-Boom! The bombs fall.
  2. The dialogue carries the play. Especially put downs and what have you. Here are some examples of the dialogue.
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2014 production at Bristol Old Vic Acting School.

This is a dialogue between Sir Francis Wildlove and Beaumont when they first meet up. Subtle it ain’t.

SIR FRANCIS

Get me some Small Beer, and dash a little Langoone in it; else ’twill go down my burning Stomach ten degrees colder than Ice: I should have met my old Friend and Collegian Beaumont,who came to Town last night, but Wine and Women drove it clear out of my Head.

SEARCHWELL

Sir, he’s here.

ENTER BEAUMONT.

SIR FRANCIS

Welcome dear Friend, I prithee pardon my omission, faith ’twas business that could not be left to other hands.

BEAUMONT

Women I suppose, and that excuse I know a Man of your kidney thinks almighty.

SIR FRANCIS

Even so well by my Life, I am heartily glad to see you, why thou hast been an age consin’d to barren Fields and senceless Groves, or Conversation stupid and dull as they: How canst thou waste thy Youth, happy Youth, the very Quintessence of Life from London,this dear Epitome of pleasure?

BEAUMONT

Because excess of drinking cloys my Stomach, and Impudence in Women absolutely turns it; then I hate the vanity of Dress and Fluttering, where eternal Noise and Nonsence reigns; this consider’d, what should I do here?

SIR FRANCIS

Not much in troth.

BEAUMONT

But you, my Friend, run the Career your appetite directs, taste all those pleasures I despise, you can inform me what humour’s most in fashion, what ruling whim, and how the Ladies are.

SIR FRANCIS

Why faith there’s no great alteration, the Money is indeed very much scarcer, yet what perhaps you’l think a wonder, dressing and debauchery increases; as for the Damosels, three sorts make a Bushel, and will be uppermost: First, there’s your common Jilts will oblige every body.

BEAUMONT

These are Monsters sure.

SIR FRANCIS

You may call it what you please, but they are very plentiful, I promise you: The next is your kept Mistress, she’s a degree modester, if not kind to each, appears in her dress like Quality, whilst her ogling eyes, and too frequent Debauches discovers her the younger Sister only to the first.

BEAUMONT

This I shou’d hate for Ingratitude.

SIR FRANCIS

The third is, not a Whore, but a brisk airy, noisy Coquette, that lives upon treating, one Spark has her to the Play, another to the Park, a third to Windsor,a fourth to some other place of Diversion; She has not the heart to grant ’em all favours, for that’s their design at the bottom of the Treats, and they have not the heart to marry her, for that’s her design too Poor Creature. So perhaps a year, or it may be two, the gaudy Butterfly slutters round the Kingdom, then if a foolish Citt does not take compassion, sneaks into a Corner, dies an Old Maid, despised and forgotten. The Men that sit those Ladies are your Rake, your Cully, and your Beaux.

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That Bristol Old Vic production via here.

Here’s another bit between husband and very unhappy wife:

MRS. FLYWIFE

Well, well, thou art a good Boy, prithee no more wrangling Fubby;I vow and swear to morrow I’ll be as great a Slattern as ever was, if that will please you, so I will.

MR, FLYWIFE

Ay, and want to go out to day, for all the gazing Fops to ad∣mire, tho’ I have told you, I can’t appear till I have enquir’d into my affairs, then to morrow, if you stay at home with me, Sackcloth will serve turn.

MRS. FLYWIFE

Lord, you are so froppish, if I was your Wife, sure Fubby,you would not be so jealous.

FLYWIFE

My Wife quotha! no, no, I was once bewitch’d, but I found such a Plague, that—No more Wives, I say.

MRS. FLYWIFE

Well, I’ll be any thing to please Fubby;Will you go in? Our Breakfast will be cold.

Note: “Bottle of hay” seems to refer to a bushel. The phrase is used in A Midsummer Night’s Dream as well.

Finally, there’s this joyous bit of dialogue. Lady Beauclair is angry at Mrs. Peggy.

LADY BEAUCLAIR.

Ye ye, ye damn’d Quean, he is here,—ha!—and his Minion with him!—let me come at her—

Leaps, and catches hold of her.

SIR CHARLES

Hell and Furies! my Wife!—Madam, why all this Rage? Don’t you see my Neice? the other is a Friend of hers, a Woman of Honour.

LADY BEAUCLAIR

Your Neice is a Pimp, and she’s a Whore! I’ll mark her—Sirrah—Villain! Oh, oh my Fits! my Fits!

“Your niece is a pimp” really isn’t used so often these days.

If pervy humor and insults aren’t your bag, then I don’t recommend the play.

LOWLIGHTS

  1. Characterization and plot take a back seat to dialogue and humor – the plot seems to be a series of complicated situations thrown together to stir conflict and humor.
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A London School of Acting Production circa 1997, aka Nightmare Fuel. Via the director’s site.

OTHERLIGHTS

  1. There’s a mystery that’s bugging me. The play mentions an Indian woman who is variously named Mrs. Bantam/Banter/Bantum – and who, it is implied, runs a brothel called the India House. To add to the confusion, one character has been away in “the Indies” for a long time. Now this usually referred to what is now Indonesia and thereabouts. And Banten is a city on Java. Where cute little bantam chickens come from.

Despite (or because of?) her notoriety, Mrs. Bantam/Banter/Bantum NEVER appears. A sequel, focusing on the adventures of an Indian madam in 1690s London might be pretty cool.

I’d love to see a modern production of this complicated, yet hilarious play. Here’s a trailer from a modern production with Pachelbel, too! 

Mary Pix succeeded in a world much more difficult than our own. She beat each and every odd to give us a strong canon of plays, poetry and a novel. She should be admired and remembered for her skill as a writer as well as her tenacity.

Her plays deserve to be remembered, studied and performed just like that one dude whose plays seem to have a stranglehold on English-language theatre four centuries after his death. Instead of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, maybe we can have the Utah Pix Festival. Ibrahim couldn’t be any worse than what they’re doing. (Note to Utah Shakes: It’s 2018 and the only play you figured you could produce is an anti-Semitic English play from a time when Jews weren’t even allowed in England? Cool story, bro. Check out Mary Pix, please).

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Character of Spendall in a 2014 production at The Bristol Old Vic Acting School. Via the actor’s site.

What do you think of Mary Pix? Would you like to see more of her work?

For a list of all our playwrights, please check here.

Here is a link dump related to any and all things Mary Pix-related.

The Plays

Ibrahim, the thirteenth Emperour of the Turks (1696), full online text.

The Spanish Wives (1696) full online text

A Printer’s Dilemma

The Innocent Mistress (1697) full online text

Cast from a 1983 production

Review of a 1997 production

Blog post from 2006

Another blog post from 2006

Review of a 2014 production at the Old Vic school

Another review of ditto

Some drama school production with Pachelbel

The Deceiver Deceived (1697) full online text

Queen Catharine; or, The Ruines of Love (1698) full online text

Interesting essay about said play.

The False Friend; or, the Fate of Disobedience (1699) full online text

The Beau Defeated; or, the Lucky Younger Brother (1700) full online text

Production from 1995

Review from 1996

Staged reading from 2016

Production from 2018

Review of said production

Female relationships in said play

Several trailers for a 2008 production

Trailer for a renamed version in Shakespeare’s hometown

The Double Distress (1701) for sale here

The Czar of Muscovy (1701), attributed to Pix although not published in her name  Plot synopsis here

The Different Widows; or, Intrigue All-A-Mode (1703), attributed to Pix Plot summary and chart

Zelmane; or, the Corinthian Queen (1705), attributed to Pix (though some scholars still debate this attribution including here)

The Conquest of Spain (1705), attributed to Pix  Discussion in a book

The Adventures in Madrid (1706) attributed to Pix. Print on demand!

The Female Wits (1697) the play written to mock her. Full text online

 

The Playwright

Entry in the DNB

Blog from 2006

Hype from the RSC

A little Q & A

 

Current Playwrights, Female Playwrights, Unknown playwrights

Andy Rassler

Our first modern playwright hails from North Carolina, USA. Andy Rassler has acted, directed and taught theatre for decades. In the last few years she’s begun to see success as a playwright.

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Andy Rassler, our playwriting hero.

Generally her plays are humorous, positive and carry a message. However, they are by no means saccharine. Rassler’s years as a theatre teacher has informed her understanding of what Theatre for Young Audiences entails and she excels at it.

The first piece we’ll study is Dante’s Inferno Six. Despite focusing on youth plays, this 10 minute play is set in the reception area of the sixth level of Dante’s Hell. This is where heretics end up.

Uberti and Cavalcanti are the two secretaries and basically they are each other’s Hell.

This is from the midst of one of their flare-ups:

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Like many American workers, they actively hate their customers/clients, as exemplified here:

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Now that I think about it, people going to Hell might be kind of annoying and I would probably grow to hate them. Anyways, this Satanic version of the Battling Bickersons meet their match when their next victim, the heretic Margaret, is totally okay with going to Hell.

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Needless to say, Rassler’s Dante’s Inferno Six is a fun play for those who think Hell would be a fun thing. It also highlights something Rassler is adept at: dispelling stereotypes and upending expectations. We, the audience, have been taught to fear Hell (unless you grew up in this church) – yet Margaret is pretty nonchalant about facing that flaming tomb. Ironically, these same flaming tombs have lent themselves to an Xbox game. Here’s a vid of the performance. 

Now on the what may be termed Rassler’s magnum opus

Clothes Minded is a witty, honest one-act that expertly dissects prejudice in America.

The plot pretty much mimics real-life, except with fabrics in a washing machine. All the whites are getting washed together (as they do) when a sock of color shows up. The white fabrics lose it and freak out. However, unlike many real-life scenarios, this play has a happy ending.

Here is a choice moment:

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This really reminds one of racists’ arguments that they just want “the other” to follow the law, no matter how intrinsically stupid said law may be.

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Ker-plunk! From YouthPlays.

Since all this is set in a washing machine, there are numerous references to swimming, which harkens to not just the past and stereotypes about black people swimming but also the recent spate of “white people calling the cops on black people for living” – most famously Pool Patrol Paula and ID Adam.

This interaction and Colored Sock’s mini-monologue here is effective.

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That line “We’re not bad people” is rich. We’ve been hearing it oh-so-often.

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It’s “the other!!!” Via YouthPlays.

The play is peppered with racists’ go-to talking points.

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“Jacked-up” is right.

Some of my best friends…” is a hilariously bad argument. Even Hitler protected an Austrian Jew he liked, so keep that in mind before you start with that argument.

Here’s another:

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Ah yes. The siren call of eugenics. This is an extreme example of “following the law” – albeit a “natural law” that someone just made up.  

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Beware, the rag pile. Hehe. Labels can be some dangerous medicine.

So far in this blog, I haven’t talked much about my personal life, but I will share my own experiences growing up in Utah as a non-Mormon (that’s a label!) – the labels I was given ranged from “non-believer” to “Satan worshipper.” [insert about 1,001 other negative experiences here]

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Rehearsal time for Clothes-minded.

Much like the parents in Rassler’s play, this idiocy started with the parents. I heard “My mom says I can’t play with you” more than once. In this way, Rassler’s play spoke to me. The Colored Sock character is way too nice to the neighbors. Lucky for them.

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Oh man. This hits the nail on the head. The way some white people will speak in hushed tones about someone who married/had a relationship out of the race.

I was at a museum in Utah once and the lady working there was yapping on about Orrin Porter Rockwell and his multiple wives and at the end she whispered “and his Indian wife.”

And then (gasp!) tragedy happens.

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Eventually things work themselves out. This is a well-written play with a positive message and good roles for kids. The play was recently published by YouthPlays.

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They turn on their own, via YouthPlays.

Now is a chance to learn more about Rassler from the playwright herself:

How did you start playwriting?  

I started writing about 10-12 years ago. My theatre class always competes in the 1-act play festival in NC. We were having a really hard time finding a piece that we connected to, so the kids said, “Why don’t you just write one?” So…I tried it. And I loved it so much. We used the piece I wrote (called—pretentiously enough—‘Minor Paradox’)!

What are your influences?

For the cadence and style of dialogue, I attribute my style to Neil Simon, mostly. I don’t know that I’d call any other playwrights ‘influences’.

What is your most memorable production and why?

Of my own pieces, the most memorable was the one-act version of ‘In the Jungle.’ This play was inspired by my twin sister, Annette, who has cerebral palsy. The students who embodied the characters were so dedicated to the piece and when we performed it at the contest, there were many, many audience members in tears. I was approached multiple times afterward with meaningful and thoughtful words—it was magical.

What is your least memorable production and why? [you can leave out specifics or names]  

My least memorable? I don’t remember…lol.  No, I can barely remember a 10-minute piece I had produced at a local community theatre. Just didn’t work.

What’s your funniest theatre story?

Of all time? Hmmm…It was not funny at the time, but one of my students pushed me to use actual profanity. He had missed an entrance and I was in the back of the auditorium watching his classmates try to cover for him. I rushed out of the theatre, back to the dressing room, and there he was just yakking it up with his home girls! I said, “You’re on! Now!” and he kind of sauntered toward the door—so I grabbed him (literally) and said, “Get your <$*& butt out there!”—Now, I just shake my head.

What are your writing habits like?

I’m sporadic. Sometimes, I’m writing every free chance I get—then there might be weeks where I don’t write a word. When there’s a deadline looming that I want to submit, I’m gangbusters. I will do all my chores and other things in life, then sit down and dedicate 2-4 hours just to get the words out on the ‘paper’. Outline, write, write. Re-outline, write, write. Rewrite.

What advice do you have for new playwrights?

Don’t be intimidated that there is magic to this craft. There isn’t any magic or specialized something you need to get started. You have a story: tell it. Then you can use all the resources you can find to fine-tune that story.

Who are some other writers you feel should get more attention?

How about—Bryan Stubbles?!  I have not had the chance to read many ‘unknown’ writers. Sorry.

What are common themes in your work?

Handicapped people, outcasts, people on the fringe.

What is one thing you wished you knew now, that you didn’t know starting out?

I wish I knew how important it was to have a network of people to support your work. I feel pretty isolated, but I’m working on building connections.

In regards to Dante Inferno Six, why is Hell so funny?

If it weren’t, it would be devastating. It makes me think of those awful times when you’re not ‘supposed’ to laugh, but if you could, it would help everything.

Please describe the process that created Clothes-minded.

A local community theatre put out a submission opportunity for 10-minute plays with the theme ‘Diversity’. I thought about that theme and all I could think of to write were things that were so corny, or cliché, or I had no business writing them because I know very little about actual diversity. I thought about the concept of segregation—separating by color—and it segued into ‘What else do we separate by color?’=laundry! Ta-da!! Someone at the 10-minute play commented on how weird it was that there were only 3 items in the load, and I thought, “Hey, this would expand to a one-act in a pretty cool way.” Ta-da!!

How are the kids and audiences responding to Clothes-minded?

My students LOOOVED performing it and the audiences were greatly amused. It’s been produced by two other groups (besides mine) already in just a few months, so I’m hopeful it will go places!

What has the feedback from People of Color or other minorities been like?

The cool thing at the very start of this is that I had a person of color playing a white sock. It was wildly cool to have discussions at rehearsal—and audience members were trying to wrap their brains around that concept. I’ve honestly had nothing but positive feedback from everyone who’s seen or been in it.

What’s a question you’d like to be asked? Go ahead and answer that question.

Question: What is your ultimate goal as a writer?

Answer: To get productions of as many of my shows as humanly possible and to leave a legacy of meaningful work behind when I go. I know I won’t know it happened, but I’d love for a production of my show to happen 250 years down the road and it’s just as relevant and meaningful as today.

Before I list her productions, do our readers have any questions for Andy? Please comment below.

For a list of all our playwrights, please check here.

Rassler’s work has seen multiple productions, mostly in North Carolina, but also in Minnesota and Germany. Below is a list of plays and productions ( with links to sites or reviews):

September 2014: Walt Grace, One Act New Play Festival. Lee Street Theatre, Salisbury, NC

March 5-6, 2016: Dear Stephen, We Like Short Shorts. Storefront Theatre, Waxhaw, NC

April 7-9, 2016: Kiss A Squid 2016 Asheville National 10-Minute Play Festival Winner. Located at the The White Horse in Black Mountain, NC

June 10-19, 2016: A Foot and a Half Old Courthouse Theatre, Concord, NC

June 16-18, 2016: Don’t Bleed on Me, Lee Street Theatre, Salisbury, NC

August 26-27, 2016: Bless Me, Father, Lee Street Theatre, Salisbury, NC

August 25-28, 2016: Number Ten, Old Courthouse Theatre Concord, NC

October 2016: Don’t Bleed on Me, NCHS Entry, NCTC One-Act Play Festival, North Carolina

November 15-16, 2016: I’ll Bet You Didn’t Know Cary Playwrights’ Forum, Cary, NC

December 2016: Star of Wonder, Lee Street Theatre, Salisbury, NC

February 1-5, 2017: In the Jungle, UBI Theatre, Leipzig, Germany

August 12-13, 2017: I’ll Bet You Didn’t Know, Old Courthouse Theatre Concord, NC

September 15-24, 2017: Clothes Minded, Eden Prairie Players, Eden Prairie, MN

November 14-16, 2017: In Heaven There is No Beer, Cary Playwrights’ Forum, Cary, NC

 

Two of her plays have been published. Clothes Minded was published by YouthPlays and is available on Amazon.

Kiss a Squid is in Smith & Kraus’ anthology Best 10 Minute Plays 2015 and Don’t Bleed On Me is in Best 10 Minute Plays 2017

Andy’s personal website is here.  

Another profile of Andy from this year.

Several of her plays are available to read at her New Play Exchange page.

Thanks Andy!

 

Female Playwrights, Playwrights of the Past, Unknown playwrights

Hilma Lewis Enander

We’re back with yet another unknown playwright. This time it is Hilma Lewis Enander, who published a volume of short plays in 1913.

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The first play in the volume is In the Light of the Stone.

In the Light of the Stone

This play is really goofy. The plot may be summarized as follows:

Mrs. & Dr. Brooks are hanging out in the Patterson home with all their rich idiot friends. Someone has stolen Mrs. Patterson’s necklace. Cops are there. Dr. Brooks receives a call about a child possibly dying from typhoid. He must leave at once – alas, he finds the necklace in his pocket and wants to give it to teh Pattersons, but his wife talks him out of it. She claims people will suspect him. Blah blah. Eventually she talks to the Pattersons. Gadzooks!!! Lo and behold she stole it, panicked and dumped it her hubby’s pocket. She feels soooooo sorry. The Pattersons forgive her and promise never to tell anyone.

This play, despite its mediocrity, doesn’t really have fun lines or examples of supreme weirdness to share here. Of course there will be a link at the end for the play.

What a playwright can learn from this play:

If you want to introduce something that sounds kinda important (girl dying of typhoid) you should probably follow up on it.

The Man Who Did Not Understand 

Aka this reader. Bwahaha. Sorry.

Ted is a miner somewhere out in the Great American Desert.

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“delighted recognition”

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They’re really not into affection. Ted tries to convince Nan to go back from whence she came. It works out as well as you’d expect.

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“But my cousin is here.”

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Salt Lake City? Now it all makes sense. Because if you were gonna show up at a guy’s cabin unannounced with your pastor/cousin with the intention of performing a marriage, then you should totally do it on the way to Salt Lake City.

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“I’m ready for anything as long as I have you.”

Run, Ted, run.

Ted hems and haws about why he didn’t write her for such a long time. He says he can’t explain it in writing. She says:

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“It’s hard for me to understand when you don’t explain.”

She has a point, Ted.

[Sulkily]

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OMG. Ted is totally married!!!! Did not see that coming.

His wife is Minna, who wears hats.

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“an air of almost indifference.”

Nan kinda freaks out when she sees Minna and simply runs away.

#problemsolved

But, alack, Minna demands Ted explain all this Nan-sense.

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[Miserably]

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Ted is a fast operator. And fast with those mixed signals. “I love you, but you can’t come near Salt Lake City with me. Bye!”

He wrote Nan two letters. They were practically shacked up.

Minna was a nurse who helped Ted out – so he married her. Because Ted is awesome like that. Ted sucks this play sucks.

Well, three can play at that running away game…

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That’s nice that the LA job opening is always there.

Before she leaves, Minna has some wise advice good advice ok advice negligible advice.

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[taking notes]

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She suspiciously has prepared everything for her soon-to-be ex. Something’s afoot.

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Minna, Ted’s never gonna give you up.

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Ohhhhh – this makes perfect sense.

What a playwright can learn from this play:

Don’t have a character just get all flustered and run away after having spent forever and a half to make an entrance.

On the Trail

Okay kids, why is it so hard to write a decent stage Western? Even I wrote one for senior actors.

In On the Trail, Bertha is minding her own business when suddenly Jack shows up. Man is on the run from the law…again out West someplace.

Bertha inexplicably covers for Jack when the cps come looking. Meanwhile, when the cops are gone she lectures Jack, who says she is preaching.

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That’s some exposition right there about what’s going on with Bertha.

This play actually has a hint of being good when the machinations of a plot twist come into play.

Bertha has been telling the cops that Jack is her husband. Her for-real husband, Jim Bryce, comes home late and walks into a hornet’s nest of police, Bertha and Jack the outlaw pretending to be her husband.

NOW, suffering from Stockholm Syndrome studipidity poor writing,

Bertha’s now pinning the robbery on her actual husband by saying he’s the outlaw.

The sheriff reads the description of the bandit (for the second time in the play):

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Bryce, you ain’t the only one bein’ “locoed.”

FYI: “Loco” is a Spanish adjective meaning “crazy.” It pops up in US English and sometimes English-language pop culture.

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Oh, look. A Western with “locos” in the title. Film description from Google: “A tough drifter must escape the clutches of a lesbian nun who holds a rule of steel over the inmates at her mental asylum. He will lead the gang of disturbed inmates across the desert.” 

Also, this Ugandan/Danish band had a popular song about 20 years ago with the lyric “she just big up her chest and go loco.” Lieber and Stoller, eat your heart out.

Meanwhile, back on Planet 1913 Theatre, the sheriff questions Bertha.

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Ohhh, all a big misunderstanding. Whew!!!

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Aww, just helpin’ his mama.

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Jack knows how to talk to girls.  (FYI, if there’s one thing in this blog worse than the play, it’s that link)

So Jack explains to the cops how the robber would’ve gotten away…and he slips out the door and, and you’ll never believe it – gets away!!!!

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So this play had an almost-twist and was actually within shooting distance of “good.”

What a playwright can learn from this play:

Most writing advice books will tell you not to make your characters sound the same. Let’s simplify that axiom: Only one character per play per act should be able to use the phrase “after all.”

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I could find nearly nothing in terms of biographical information about Hilma Lewis Enander. She wrote an article about Charlie Chaplin’s father-in-law in 1926.

She had other plays copyrighted. She may be the Miss HL Enander who won a music prize. So may the HL Enander who also published a short story here.

I found a Hilma Lewis Enander from North Dakota, who would’ve been 18 when these plays were published (and that would make their undeveloped status more understandable) but apparently her maiden name was Nelson. I dunno. It would be nice to know more about this really unknown playwright.

The plays can be read here.

And to end this, here’s It’s A Small World for like an hour. Because it is a small world, after all.

 

 

Monologue Monday

Monologue Monday: March in Line by Tara Meddaugh

Howdy everyone! This week we bring you March in Line by Tara Meddaugh.

This is not the first Meddaugh monologue to be featured here. That honor belongs to the ever-so-funny Ferret Envy

This monologue is an interestingly bizarre (or bizarrely interesting?) piece about a would-be drum major who is lining up an army of stuffed animals, ostensibly to ply their instruments but she does mention marching “to their deaths” which takes the monologue to a very interesting direction.

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march out with flutes and heads held high, and fall to your fated death…all for me.

Note: the character’s name is Stephanie but the playwright has labelled the character as gender-neutral. Both males and females have recorded videos of this monologue.

Notice how effective it becomes when actually done in front of stuffed animals.

The full monologue may be accessed here. Don’t forget to ask the playwright for permission! (AND ENJOY!!!!!)

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And there you have it, March in Line by Tara Meddaugh, available here.