So I’ll admit it. I take several of those stupid Facebook quizzes. They are a complete waist of time, but for some reason fun to take. They have no purpose except for fun. The most recent one I took was called “Which American Playwright are you?” I ended up being William Inge. I didn’t really think anything about it. He’s a great playwright so I was satisfied. However, Karen Barker, my former professor, commented on it: “I bet they don’t even have any women playwrights in that quiz, do they?” I knew she was probably right so I went and checked. She of course was. The playwrights on the quiz are: Neil Simon, Tennessee Williams, William Inge, Georg Cohan, and Arthur Miller. (It’s also interesting to point out that they are all white male playwrights.) All of these playwrights are great and important to theater history, and I think anyone who studies theater should know about these playwrights. However, it is sad that all the female playwrights get lost in those names.
This reminded me of one of my favorite days in “History of Theater”, which is a class I took in Undergrad with Dr. Bob. He had this tradition every year of proving a point that a certain group of playwrights were the most famous playwrights ever (except for Shakespeare). He had ever student in the class list their 5 favorite playwrights. Every year his point was proven without failure. Students would always say names such as Tennessee Williams, August Wilson, and Arthur Miller. However, one year (my year), his point was not proven. Only one student in the room said Tennessee Williams. Everyone else was saying names like Jenny Laird, Rebecca Gilman, Mary Zimmerman, Tina Howe, and many more. Dr. Bob said that was the first year that ever happened. This was a day I was so proud to be a part of Northwestern College. This is certainly a tribute to my mother and Karen Barker who made a point of introduction female playwrights to the students at Northwestern. If you asked me today who my favorite playwrights of all time are I would say: Suzan Lori Parks, Wendy Wasserstein, Adrienne Kennedy, Rebecca Gilman, and Tina Howe. Maybe it’s just as bad that all of my favorites are women. But at least I know about them.
I hope Dr. Bob is still having trouble with proving his point. 🙂