Tina Howe and writing about women

I’m currently reading the collection of Tina Howe plays called “The Marriage Cycle.” I’ m trying to read as much of her work as I can – for several reasons but the primary one being that she is spearheading the brand new Hunter MFA Playwriting program.

I always find forewords by a playwrights herself/himself in collections of their work to be fascinating – I think it’s because they tend to be a lot more introspective than a contemporary writing about their work, which tends to be more gushy and congratulatory.

In the introduction to this collection, Tina Howe writes something interesting about women writing women characters –

“What I’ve learned over the years is, it’s one thing when male playwrights write about women, but when we do it, the structure and rhythms are different. Ambiguity floods in and therein lies the threat. We tend to see conflicting aspects of a situation and at the same time, blending the tragic with the comic, and the noble with the absurd. Female poets and novelists have been doing it for years. Women who write for the theater have to walk a finer line, because our musings come to life…We can poke gentle fun at our foibles, but the minute our heroines start to challenge the system, be it within the family or society at large, the critics tend to get nervous.”

-Tina Howe, February 2010 – Intro. to The Marriage Cycle 


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