Saturday, July 15, 2017

Europe - 20th and 21st Century Women in Drama and Theatre

Europe - 20th and 21st Century Women in Drama and Theatre

Edith Ailsa Geraldine Craig

Female dramaturgy and staging of the 20th Century would not have ever been the same without the theatre director, theatre producer, costume designer and one of the pioneers of the suffragette movement Edith Ailsa Geraldine Craig. She was born in 1869 and was the daughter of the English actress Ellen Terry and architect-designer Edward William Godwin. Craig was a lesbian who lived with the artist Clare ‘Tony’ Atwood and the playwright Christabel Marshall.
Craig studied at the Royal Academy of Music and made her acting debut in 1878 in the play Olivia. She then trained as a pianist and following this she joined the Lyceum Theatre Company as a small part actress and a seamstress and costume designer. She toured with the company and her costume design skills became praised for their beauty and historical accuracy. 
As an actress, Craig started to gain notoriety, acting alongside the great Henry Irving. Her commitment to the suffragette movement started when she performed in the plays of Ibsen and Shaw. Shaw is believed to have written the title role in Candida for Craig. Irving employed her to make dresses for his productions and soon after this Craig set up her own dressmaking business called Edith Craig & Co.  
In 1911, Craig was one of the founders of the Pioneer Players, a London company which became known for mounting plays which were banned, translations of new foreign plays, plays about human rights and women’s suffrage and Feminism. The President of the company was Craig's mother, Ellen Terry, was president of the society. Craig became the Managing Director and Artistic Director of the company. One of the charters of the company was to increase the opportunities for women in theatre both on and off the stage. In the 14 years of the Pioneer Players, Craig produced and directed about 148 productions. 
Craig was also a pioneer in the creation of the Little Theatre movement in the United Kingdom helping to set up Little Theatres in Hampstead, Leeds, Letchworth and York. She also promoted the development of amateur theatre through the United Kingdom. When Craig’s mother Ellen Terry died in 1928, Craig started to convert a barn neighboring Terry’s house into a theatre called The Barn Theatre. Every year after that for the next 18 years, she produced Shakespeare plays in honour of her mother’s legacy. 
In her last years, Craig dictated her memoirs to her good friend Vera Holme. These memoirs were lost until they were found in 1978. These were then published by Ann Rachlin in her 2011 book Edy was a Lady in 2011.

Cicely Mary Hamilton

Cicely Mary Hamilton was an English actress, playwright, writer, suffragette and early 20th century feminist. After initially working as a teacher, she soon took to the stage with a touring company. She eventually gravitated towards the suffragette movement and in 1908, Bessie Hatton and her started the Women Writer’s Suffrage League. In that same year she wrote her first plays, Diana of Dobson's and Women's Votes (1908). The next year she wrote and staged her most famous play How the Vote was Won. These plays were performed around the country and some people regard her plays as a new sub-genre of plays which some call Suffrage Drama. 
In 1910, Hamilton wrote another Suffrage Drama done in pageant form entitled A Pageant of Great Women and this play was staged by the female theatre director Edith Craig. She wrote plays over the next 34 years and helped advocated for more participation of women in theatre for the Pioneer Players and the Birmingham Repertory Company. Some of her plays include The Traveller Returns (1906), Diana of Dobson's, Women's Votes (1908), How the Vote was Won (1909), A Pageant of Great Women (1910), Just to Get Married (1911), Jack and Jill and a Friend (1911), The Child in Flanders: A Nativity Play (1922), The Old Adam (1924) and The Beggar Prince (1944) 

Elsa Hildegard Baroness von Freytag-Loringhoven (née Plötz

The German Dada performance artist, poet and assemblage artist Elsa Hildegard Baroness von Freytag-Loringhoven (née Plötz) was born in 1874 and worked in both Germany and America before returning to Germany where she died in 1927.

Many believe that the emphasis in von Freytag-Loringhoven’s work on undermining and commenting on patriarchal systems and the nature of masculinity and power were due to her father’s combination of kindness, cruelty and dominance. This is most evident in the verbal text in her performance work and her poetry. Her close relationship with her mother and her mother’s love of re-purposing everyday objects is often seen as influencing Freytag-Loringhoven's use of found objects, street debris and domestic objects in her art work and costumes.

Freytag-Loringhovenn trained as an actress, cabaret and vaudeville performer and became very involved in the artistic life in both Munich and Dachau.  Her marriage to August Endell was often described as an open relationship and some describe her and her husband being part of a ménage à trois with Felix Paul Greve (born Frederick Philip Grove). Some of her early poems and performance work explored this relationship. She divorced and married Greve. Her new husband always had financial problems and by 1909 these problems led to Greve and Freytag-Loringhovenn staging his suicide and he left for the North America where she joined him a year later ona small farm in Kentucky. Greve eventually moved to North Dakoto and then to Manitoba in Canada. There is no record of their divorce. She started to become a writer and model.

In 1913, Elsa married her third husband, the Baron Leopold von Freytag-Loringhoven and she became Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, the name she became known for as an artist. Elsa moved to New York, living on and off with her new husband while also working as an artist’s model while also and shifts in a cigarette factory. In 1917, she created her first assemblage art pieces.

Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven started to write poetry and perform her poetry from 1918. Her work regularly appeared in The Little Review and the ‘sound poetry’ form of her work along with her performances often lead people to describing her as America’s first Dada artist.  In New York, she started to create art and performance pieces out of street rubbish. She created costumes for her performances and daily life out of rubbish, found objects and domestic items and her performances and her life became a ‘living collage’ commenting on the landscape of the artificial boundaries between life and art. Her costumes attacked the bourgeoisie concepts of consumer wealth and traditional definitions of femininity and female beauty. Her body became a deliberate performance space to explore the constraints of femininity and notions of gender and androgyny. In her performances she would also play with scents and smells and allegedly even uses menstrual blood in some performances. While some of her art works such as God and her poetry still exist today. Very few photographs appear of her performance and living art pieces. Recent research suggests that the Dada artist Duchamp’s notion of found art came through his correspondence with or him hearing about Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven’s work.

Freytag-Loringhoven returned to Germany in 1923, lived in Berlin and then the Weimar Rebuplic but ended up virtually penniless and on the streets suffering from depression and mental illness. Her health in 1926 when she moved to Paris. She would be seen on the streets of Paris sometimes performing her poetry in her went ‘assemblage’ and d’domestic object’ art outfits. On December 14 1928 she died in her small flat due to gas suffocation after the gas was left on. It was never clear whether she forgetfully left it on, left it on intentionally or whether someone else turn on the gas and left. 

Elisabeth Hauptmann

Elisabeth Hauptmann was a great German playwright, dramaturg, translator and collaborator with Bertolt Brecht. She was born in 1897 in Peckelsheim in Germany. She met Brecht in 1922 when she moved to Berlin and by 1924 they were collaborating with playwriting.  
Hauptmann was incredibly intelligent and well-read. Unlike Brecht, she spoke and read English and also read music notation. In all likelihood, she wrote at least half of Mahagonny-Songspeil (1927) even though she is not listed as an author of any of the piece (it is only listed as lyrics and words by Bertolt Brecht and music by Kurt Weill). At least two of the songs in the show ‘Alabama Song’ and ‘Benares Song’ are English-language parodies almost certainly written by Hauptmann. Also, although she is only listed as the co-author of The Threepenny Opera (1928), it is likely that she did the bulk of the translation and transposing from the English writer John Gay’s 18th Century ballad opera The Beggar’s Opera. 
Some of the writing, songs and ideas in the 1930 ‘Epic Opera’ The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny seem consistent with Hauptmann’s dramatic writing style but she was never credited for this play either. She is listed under the name of Dorothy Lane as a co-author on the musical comedy Happy End (1929). Her knowledge of English meant that the fact that the musical was based on George Bernard Shaw’s Major Barbara, makes her contribution probably more considerable than often acknowledged. She almost certainly wrote the beautiful song ‘Surabaya Johnny’ for Happy End.
In 1929 and 1930, Hauptmann probably wrote some of the scenes and speeches for St Joan of the Stockyards, she was never credited for this. In 1930, she translated Arthur Waley’s English version of the Japanese Noh drama Taniko into German. This became the basis for Der Jasager (The Yes Sayer or He Who Said Yes). Once again she was never credited for any part of this play. 
With the rise of Nazism, Hauptmann went into exile in the United States. Hauptmann wrote a brief biography of the aviator Charles Lindberg which became the basis for a collaboration for another chamber play with music sometimes called The Flight of the Lindbergs.All this was in addition to the dramaturgy, research, editing and even secretarial tasks she performed for Brecht. She married composer Paul Dessau in 1943. She returned to East Germany to work as a dramaturg for Brecht’s Berliner Ensemble and she became the major representative of Brecht in checking Bentley’s English translations of Brecht’s work. In 1961, she received the Lessing Award from the East German Ministry of Culture. She continued to translate English and Japanese texts for most of her life. She created a German version of the Yuan Dynasty Chine's play He Hanshan (The Confronted Undershirt). She died in 1973 in East Berlin. 

Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie (Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie) is an English crime novelist, short story writer and playwright. Born in 1890, she lived 85 years. You might think why does she belong here. She wrote only seven plays. Six were done under the name Mary Westmacott and one was written under her own name. That one play, the murder mystery Mousetrap, hold the record for the world’s longest running play. It opened in 1952 and is still running after 26,000 individual performances. Agatha Christie’s play Mousetrap is arguable the world’s most popular play.

Marieluise Fleißer

Although the German author and playwright Marieluise Fleißer only wrote a handful of plays, she deserves to be read by anyone studying drama because of the uniqueness of her work. Born in 1901, she lived through two World Wars. The Depression and the rise of Nazi Germany. Like Brecht, she was born in Bavaria but unlike him she was born in Ingolstadt, the setting for Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein. Fleißer’s best known plays works are Purgatory in Ingolstadt (1924) and Pioneers in Ingolstadt (1928) address the issues of domestic violence and issues of relationships on a micro and domestic level. Her plays are sometimes categorized as Critical (or radical) Volksstücke, a genre that references and engages critically with the conventions of the popular "Volksstück", or People’s Plays. Her characters use regional (Bavarian) dialect, are from the working class and everyday events and relationships are dealt with in the plots. Brecht convinced the great director Moriz Seeler to put on Pioneers in Ingolstadt. Due to the championing of German Director Peter Stein, Playwright Franz Xavier Kroetz and Director and Playwright Rainer Werner Fassbinder, the 1970’s saw a rival of some of her work. Female director Annie Castledine brought Fleißer’s work to the English stage in 1990. 

Joan Littlewood

Joan Littlewood (1914-2002) was an extraordinary visionary and revolutionary in twentieth century British theatre. She led a revolution in British theatre in the late 1940’s through until the late 1960’s and continued this work into children’s and community theatre in the 1970’s. 

In the early 1930's, Littlewood graduated from RADA but her detest of 'cosy theatre' meant that she left straight away to travel to Paris and learn more about European theatre. In 1933, she returned to manchester and worked a little in Rep theatre in Manchester and worked at BBC Radio where she worked on a radio documentary about the building of the Mersey Tunnel and it is while working on this project that she met musician and author Ewan MacColl and joined the Socialist Theatre of Action.

The two were refused visas to visit the Soviet Union so instead they started to work on their own manifesto for a 'Theatre of Action' which included many of the ideas of theatre as the battleground between the oppressor and the oppressed expressed later by Brazilian Augusto Boal. These ideas were then transferred to the development of Littlewood and MacColl of the Theatre Union. The Theatre Union's work concentrated on an Agit-Prop style of theatre similar to that Piscator developed in his theatre in Germany.

Although the Theatre Union disbanded on the outbreak of the Second World War, Littlewood worked during this time for the BBC on radio documentaries. In 1945, at Kendal, her third and last company, the Theatre Workshop, was established to create original, frequently political, plays, and to put fresh, again frequently political, slants on the classics. She was a Left-wing visionary, who founded in 1945 a company called Theatre Workshop, which acted as a theatre collective more than a company. The Theatre Workshop collective aimed its work at working-class audiences in the North of England. Gerry Raffles was its administrator, and profits were split equally. Joan Littlewood and Raffles fell in love, and her marriage to MacColl was dissolved.

Using Bertolt Brecht's principles well before Brecht had been heard of in Britain or the West, Joan Littlewood applied these principles to all aspects of her work and the creation of the collective. The Theatre Workshop became a long lasting, self-contained company with its own writers, director, designers and philosophy and developed its own style of working processes, staging and style of acting which had elements of Epic Theatre but eventually developed its own distinctive form of Collective and Proletariat theatre.

The most successful productions included Ewan MacColl's version of Hasek's The Good Soldier Schweik (1957), Brendan Behan's The Quare Fellow (1957) and The Hostage (1958) Shelagh Delaney's A Taste of Honey (1958), Frank Norman and Lionel Bart's Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be (1959), Stephen Lewis's Sparrers Can't Sing (1960) and the collective’s most famous piece Oh! What A Lovely War (1963).

In creating her own style of British Proletariat theatre, Littlewood drew on working class British performing arts forms such as the music hall, popular songs, vaudeville, stand up comedy, jokes, asides and satire. This gave her theatre a spontaneity and freshness filled with character. Littlewood’s own character infused itself in theatre and the image of Littlewood, the chain-smoking, toothy woman in a woolly hat with an eagerness to disconcert the middle-classes, particularly those who liked straight, respectable plays with beginnings, middles and ends, resonates through this period.

The late 1960’s saw the depletion of the resources and elements of her collective which she tried to steer away from the trappings and pitfalls of commercial theatre. Joan Littlewood saw her dream of a working class theatre slipping away and her move to the East End with its cheap, refurbished and charming little late-Victorian playhouse, staging song-and-dance plays for the local people dissipated when the local people never came, though they lived within yards of the Theatre Royal with its convivial bar and barrels of draught beer, and someone at the piano to lead the sing-song before the show. People from further west on the other hand went in hordes, in their furs and smart cars. The trek eastwards was a tribute to the vitality, vulgarity and originality of Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop.

Gerry Raffles had taken care of all things domestic in Joan Littlewood's life - cooking, chauffeuring, even buying her clothes and giving her pocket money. When he died in 1975, she walked out of the collective and the Theatre Royal, never to return.

Joan then moved to and lived quietly in France, where Raffles had died.
There she enjoyed a close, though not romantic, friendship with Baron Philippe de Rothschild, until his death in 1988. She called him "Guv" and his chateau a stable. Eccentric to the last when Playboy came to interview the Baron in 1986, Joan came down to dinner wearing two bedraggled rabbit ears and a pompom for a tail.

Oh! It's a Lovely War!
"Oh, oh, oh it's a lovely war. 
Who wouldn't be a soldier, eh? 
Oh it's a shame to take the pay. 
As soon as reveille has gone we feel just as heavy as lead, 
but we never get up till the sergeant brings our breakfast up to bed. 
Oh, oh, oh, it's a lovely war. 
What do we want with eggs and ham when we've got plum and apple jam? 
Form fours. Right turn. How shall we spend the money we earn? Oh, oh, oh it's a lovely war.”

Ruth Berghaus 

Ruth Berghaus was a German theatre and opera director and choreographer who was born in Dresden in 1927 and died in Berlin in 1996. She initially studied dance in the Expressionistic form under Great Palucca and then went on to study at the German Academy of the Arts in Berlin. She then went on to work with Walter Felsenstein after World War II but eventually then worked on staging dance theatre, musical theatre and opera based on Brechtian ideas of theatre.  

By the early 1950’s, Berghaus started to work as a choreographer and movement director at the Deutsches Theatre Berlin, the Deutsche Staatsoper and the Berliner Ensemble. She married composer Paul Dessau in 1954. Berghaus became particularly well known for her direction at the Berliner Ensemble in 1960 of Die Verurteilung des Lukullus (The Condemnation of Lucullus) which is an opera by Paul Dessau with a libretto by Bertolt Brecht. This was soon followed by her choreography of the slaughter scenes in the Berliner Ensemble’s 1964 production of Brecht’s Coriolanus. She directed other plays for the the Berliner Ensemble and in 1977 she was appointed Artistic Director of the Berliner Ensemble. 

Throughout the 1980’s, Berghaus worked primarily as an opera director and she directed several productions for the Frankfurt Opera including Mozart’s Die Zauberflote and Die Entfuhrung aus den Serail, and Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen and Parsifal. Berghaus's opera direction seemed to influence many other opera directors since she captured both the aesthetic and the movement mise en scene aspects of the form. Her worked with and mentored many others including Harry Kupfer, Konwitschny and David Alden. Some consider her work of this period as Social Realist and many consider that she advanced the form beyond its early twentieth century form. Berghaus’s final operatic production was a 1995 production in Leipzig of Strauss’s Die Fledermaus. 

During the 1990’s, Berghaus began a thematic set of theatre productions which started with a production she directed of Buchner’s Danton’s Death. She also directed a production of Brecht’s In the Jungle in 1991 in Hamburg, as part of the same series. She died in 1996 due to cancer. 

Ariane Mnouchkine

Ariane Mnouchkine is a Female French theatre director, the daughter of Russian immigrants, who was born in 1939 in Paris and founded the Paris avante garde ensemble called Theatre de Soleil.  

After studying Psychology in the UK, Mnouchkine returned to Paris to work with Jacque Lecoq. By 1964, she had formed her own theatre collective called Theatre de Soleil (Theatre of the Sun) where she tried to create a more universal theatre which uses different styles and she attempted to create social and political critiques of local and world cultures.

Mnouchkine created a hybrid theatre which used aspects of physical theatre and her processes were centred in her belief in theatre as a truely collaborative art form. She wanted to create a theatre that moved beyond playwrights and directors and move to a form of theatre "... where it will be possible for everyone to collaborate without there being directors, technicians, and so on, in the old sense." She and her company develop their works using many techniques. Sometimes the troupe developed ideas out of improvisational exercises. They also incorporated multiple styles of theatre in their work - ranging from Ancient Greek rituals to commedia del arte to Asian rituals and theatre styles like Kabuki and Kathakali and Chinese theatre traditions.

Théâtre du Soleil, Mnouchkine’s major company, would perform productions often in found spaces like barns or gymnasiums because Mnouchkine does not like being confined to a typical stage. Similarly, she feels theatre cannot be restricted with the "fourth wall". When audiences enter a Mnouchkine production, they will often find the actors preparing (putting on makeup, getting into costume) right before their eyes.

Mnouchkine developed her own works, like the political-themed 1789, but on the whole she is known for her recontextualisation of the works of others through working on classical texts, like Moliere’s Tartuffe (1979)Shakespeare’s Richard II and Twelfth Night (1981-1984) and the Ancient Greek Oresteia Trilogy (1990-1992). Since 2000, she has worked on recontextualising the work of Ibsen and she won the Ibsen Award in 2009.
Mnouchkine encourages company members and audiences to think of the stage as a sacred space. Productions always include the ritual of performers putting their makeup and costumes on in front of the audience. Rehearsals usually last for six months and since casting is based on improvisational sessions it can take weeks or months to determine. During the rehearsal process pictures and books are used to stimulate thoughts and responses about characters and the development of sets, lighting, costumes, styles of makeup, masks, sound and music. Like Brecht, Mnouchkine sees the actor as primarily a storyteller and performances by Theatre du Soleil are therefore highly physical and often demand athletic and acrobatic skills. Actors are also required to represent and convey strong emotions and images by recognising what Mnouchkine calls ‘the state'. Basic states can change according to circumstances, but every actor is encouraged to locate and depict a central feeling that dominates the physical and emotional life of a character before exploring such changes.

In keeping with the utopian ideals of the company, Theatre du Soleil's work is non-militant yet socially and politically relevant. The company has remained a uniquely collaborative project and all members of the group perform a variety of technical, artistic and menial tasks. Her motto is often seen as “…In the morning sweep the floor, in the day write the poetry and in the evening find poetry in sweeping the floor…”

Dorothy Heathcote

Dorothy Heathcote was a British drama teacher, educationalist and academic whose work influenced education, drama teaching, role play, improvisational theatre and documentary theatre in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. She was born in 1926 and died in 2011. 

Heathcote initially trained as a weaver and then was formally trained as an actress. In 1951, she was given a job as a teacher, even though she had no formal training or certification. It is around this time that she started to adapt the Stanislavsky training techniques she had learn at Drama School to invent her “teacher in role” methods which she refined during the 1950’s. By the late 1970’s she had further fine tuned her teaching to a method she called “Mantle of the Expert”. The “teacher in role” method became a part of not only drama teaching but educational approaches in general and it was also adopted by some improvisational groups in the UK during the 1970’s and early 1980’s. 

The “Mantle of the Expert” approach developed by Heathcote is an inquiry-based student centered method of teaching which involves learners being enrolled as experts so that they may experience the situations and perspectives explored in an improvised drama for the purpose of enhancing their experience and engaging students in the learning experience. As the word “mantle” implies, the “Mantle of the Expert” approach places the child at the centre of the learning. The teacher acts as facilitator to the learning of the students and the approach allows the teacher to be responsive to the needs of learners. The teacher consciously positions the children as competent co-constructors of the learning. In 1966, Heathcote and her work appeared in a BBC documentary called Death of a President which used young offenders. Her work also appeared in another documentary in 1972 entitled Three Looms Waiting.

During the 1970’s, Heathcote took her work away from schools and formal educational settings and started to spend more time initiating her work with hospitals, people and children with disabilities and with young offenders in UK and European criminal detention institutions. It is interesting to note that it was around this time that Heathcote’s work and ideas started to become more standard in the training of Drama teachers who would primarily work in formal education settings.

The 1980’s saw Heathcote return to work in schools and in teacher training and initiate her “Mantle of the Expert” methods in range of contexts. 
"I introduced mantle of the expert work when I was trying to help teachers who didn't understand creating tension by being playwrights and to cut out the need for children having to act, or express feelings and behave like other people” Heathcote, 2002). 

Although Heathcote officially retired in 1986, she continued to work right up to her death in 2011, training teachers, running workshops, and speaking and writing about her methods. 

Franca Rame

The Italian actor, playwright and militant leftwing politician Franca Rame who 
was also the wife and professional partner of Dario Fo was born in Milan. She began work in the theatre as an actress at the age of eighteen. After working together in the early 1950’s, she courted and married Dario Fo. They formed their own theatre company performing mostly cabaret style acts. She also appeared during the mid-1950’s in a range of films including the 1956 film Lo Svitato (The Screwball). Her work as an actress around this time is described as a very physical comedy similar to that of the French actor Jacque Tati.

In the early 1960’s, Rame and Fo were signed as guest stars on the Italian television variety show Canzonissima, but they left after a number of episodes after their political satire sketches were censored. They went back to the theatre. Rame starred in and helped to write parts of the next set of successful plays for their company including Isabella, Tre Caravelle e un Cacciaballe (Isabella, 
Three Sailing Ships and a Con Man), set during the inquisition in Spain. They continued during the 1960’s to perform in small venues and factories supporting the rights of the working class. One of the plays that Rame seems to have had substantial input into was the 1969 play L'operaio conosce 300 parole, il padrone 1,000 - per questo lui è il padrone (in English known as The Worker Knows 300 Words, The Boss Knows 1,000 - That's Why He's the Boss) about a group of workers clearing out a library in a Communist party community centre to make way for billiard tables. 

In 1970, Rame and Fo co-founded the Milanese militant theatre group, La Comune. They co-wrote agitprop pieces such as I’d Rather Die Tonight If I Didn’t Think It Had All Been in Vain (1971) and Fedayin (1971), which both raised money for Palestinian Liberation and was performed with eight members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine with simultaneous Arabic translation.  
In 1973, Fo, Rame and the Sicilian cantastorie Cicciu Busacca wrote The People's War in Chile (Guerra di popolo in Cile) which was a two act play which montages monologues, songs and sketches written and performed in response to the coup in Chile at this time. 

Rame and Fo continued their political anti-Fascist and Anti-Establishment theatre. In 1973, Rame was kidnapped by a group of Fascists and raped by her captors. Ten years later, she used the experience for a monologue, Lo Stupro (The Rape). Although still recovering from her ordeal in 1974, Rame had a significant input into writing many segments of the 1974 play Can’t Pay? Won’t Fo which is normally only attributed to Dario Fo. 

In 1977, Rame and Fo wrote the play Female Parts (originally titled Tutta casa, letto e chiesa) and Rame performed in this play. The play is made up of four monologues including A Woman Alone about a housewife who is a prisoner in her own, Medea which is modern version of the Ancient Medea story, Same Old Story about a woman bearing an unwanted child and talking about sexual exploitation and Rise and Shine about a woman who has to cope with a screaming child and other domestic frustrations.  

In the early 1980’s Rame performed in many plays attributed solely to Fo even though rehearsal notes and memoirs seemed to indicate she wrote many of monologues she performed in these plays. 

In 1983, Rame and Fo wrote the one-act comedy The Odd Couple which portrayed characters based on their own decision to have an open relationship allowing both to take other partners. 1986, saw Rame and Fo writing the play Una giornata qualunque (A Day Like Any Other), a one act play about a woman who is trying to videotape a suicide note to her husband but is interrupted a number of times by the telephone.  In 1987 Rame announced the separation of her and Dario Fo on television in Italy. 

In the early 1990’s Rame and Fo had got back together and were living and working together. This was another productive period for Rame and in 1993, Fo and Rame wrote and performed in Settimo: ruba un po' meno no. 2 (The Seventh Commandant: Steal a Bit Less No. 2) which dramatically explored the Italian government scandals of the 1990’s. In 1993, they developed the monologue Mamma! I sanculotti! (Mummy! The Sans-Culottes).  In 1994, Rame appeared as an actress in her son’s Jacopo’s stage adaptation of the her and Fo’s book Zen and the Art of Fucking known initially under the play name of Sex? Yes please, my pleasure to appease eventual bigots who anyway tried. In 1995, Fo and Rame worked with their son Jacopo to add new scenes to this piece with didactic pieces on topics such as AIDS, contraception, sex education and sexual repression. The two clashed consistently with the Italian government of Silvio Berlusconi. 

As the 21st century began, Fo and Rame continued to write and perform plays together including the 2003 play L'Anomalo Bicefalo (TheTwo-Headed Anomaly) an absurd satire on the events in Sicily where an assassination attempt being made Vladimir Putin and Silvio Berlusconi. In 2006, Rame she stood for parliament and she was elected to the senate but she soon resigned. Fo devoted much of the later place of her life to organizing and being a dramaturge of Dario Fo’s plays, notes and performance notes. 2009, saw Dario Fo finally seem to want to value Rame’s life in drama through writing a biography of Rame. In the same year Rame acted in a play she joint wrote with Fo about Aurelius Ambrosius, the patron saint of Milan. Franca Rame, playwright, actor and activist died on May 29th, 2013. She was survived by her husband Dario Fo and their son Jacopo Fo. 

Caryl Churchill

Perhaps one of the greatest and most prolific playwrights to write in the English language female or male is the great Caryl Churchill. She is probably one of the greatest drama explorers of different styles, conventions and subject matter. Born in 1938, her work is pivotal to theatre and theatre form in the 20th and 21st centuries. Her work explores power, the abuse of power, sexual politics and feminism through a range of primarily non-naturalistic forms and conventions. Her work experiments with forms from Epic Theatre to dance-theatre to Theatre of Cruelty to surrealism and post-modernism. 
Churchill began writing plays at university and were performed by various Oxford University theatre groups and ensembles. Some of these early plays explore sexuality, relationships and power and powerlessness in relationships. These early plays include Downstairs (1958), You’ve No Need to be FrightenedHaving a Wonderful Time (1960), Identical Twins (1960) and Easy Death (1962). 
After her marriage in 1961 to barrister David Harter and having three children, Churchill started to write short radio dramas for BBC Radio, many of which she later adapted to the stage. Many of these have a domestic Epic Theatre quality while providing insight into domestic and inter-personal politics and power. Some of these radio plays include The Ants (1962), Not, Not, Not, Not Enough Oxygen (1971), and Schreber's Nervous Illness (1972). 

The first major play Churchill wrote was Owners in 1972 which was a 14 scene play done in two acts. She also wrote The Ants also in 1972 which was soon followed by the play Loving Clocks Go Slow in 1973. In 1974, Churchill became the resident playwright at the Royal Court Theatre. Soon after this she began to work with the feminist theatre collective Monstrous Regiment and the workshop/improvisation-based Joint Stock Theatre Company with whom she wrote the play Objections to Sex and Violence in 1975. This was soon flowed by Light Shining in Buckinghamshire (1976), Traps (1976) and Vinegar Tom (1976) which is set during the 17th century English witchcraft trials and explores gender and power relationships using Epic Theatre techniques. The play Seagulls was also written around this time. 
In 1979, her work with the Joint Stock Theatre Company brought the play Cloud 9 to fruition. Starting from an examination of colonialist and imperialist standpoints, the play has a two-act contrapuntal structure where Act One is set in colonial Africa and Act Two is set in the present (a park in London in 1979). The play uses cross-gender casting, satire, sexual politics and some Epic Theatre techniques. The play was successful not only just in the UK but also in the USA and Australia.

Bit by bit, Churchill started to discard the conventions of realism and started her search for and embodiment of more feminist models of theatre and drama. In 1982, she wrote one of her greatest plays Top Girls, an all-female play which explores how women often lose their humanity when they attain power in the male dominated halls of power and business. This play also uses a contrapuntal structure as the second half of the play is set in the past. Other plays she wrote during the 1980’s were Fen (a 1983 play set in the Fenlands which explores the bitterness of men and women caught in low-paying labour jobs and economic oppression), Softcops (a surreal 1984 play about set in 19th-century France about government attempts to legitimize illegal acts), A Mouthful of Birds (a 1986 play with movement and dance co-written with David Lan which reimagines Euripides’ The Bacchae), Serious Money (a 1987 satire about the shocking excesses of the financial world), depoliticize illegal acts and the two companion plays Icecream and Hot Fudge (two1989 comedies exploring Anglo-American stereotypes). 
Churchill’s 1990 play Mad Forest: A Play for Romania which is a three act drama based on the Romanian Revolution of 1989. She collaborated in 1991 with composer Orlando Gough and choreographer Ian Spink to develop the play The Lives of Great Poisoners Lives of the Great Poisoners which is a multidisciplinary theatre piece with elements of text, dance and song on the theme of history’s most infamous poisoners. In her 1994 play The Shriker, Churchill explores associative dream logic to explore internationalism, the global ecology made through gender games, storytelling, distorted language, facets of modern urban life as seen by the ancient and shape-shifting deathly figure The Skriker as she searches for love and revenge. Other plays she wrote in the 1990’s were Blue Heart (1997), Hotel (1997) and This is a Chair (1999). 
In the 21st Century, Churchill has continued to be at the centre of experimentation in British and English-speaking theatre. Far Away (2000) explores the relationship between war, fear and government while her 2001 play Thyestes is a translation and trans-positioning of Seneca’s tragedy. A Number (written in 2002) deals with human cloning. Identity and the age old nature versus nurture debate. In 2005, she translated Strindberg’s a Dream Play capturing the surreal and expressionist qualities of the original play. 
Churchill’s 2006 play, Drunk Enough to Say I Love You is a politically allegorical play which explores the power of the United States since Vietnam through Sam, the aggressive homosexual lover of Jack/Guy. Churchill’s beautifully crafted 2009 play Seven Jewish Children – A Play for Gaza was a short ten-minute play which explores the lives of families in Gaza and the way women and families protect children. Some considered the play anti-Semitic but others see it capturing the nuances of on-going violence and the way that individuals and societies can become desensitized to violence. Her 2012 play Love and Information is very different to Seven Jewish Children in that it involves 57 scenes, 16 actors and has a running time of over 110 minutes. The play is a kaleidoscope or non-linear sculpture of scenes and styles exploring memory, the erosion of privacy, the decay of communication, language and human connections, while ultimately reinforcing that modern societies insatiable appetite for knowledge challenges our capacity to connect, communicate and love. Her other recent plays include Ding Dong the Wicked (2013), Here We Go (2015), Escaped Alone (2016) and Pigs And Dogs (2016). 

Sarah Kane

The English playwright Sarah Kane was born in 1971 and died in 1999. Considering her short life, her plays cover the gambit of human emotions and sentiments physically, psychologically and metaphorically from love (in many forms), sexual desire, pain, torture and death. Her work also stylistically has Expressionist undertones, elements of Jacobean Tragedy and yet her work has a In-Yer-Face Naturalism aesthetic. Her body of work consists of five plays Blasted (1995), Phaedra’s Love (1996), Cleansed (1998), Crave (1998), Psychosis (1999) and one short film Skin (1995). In 1999, Kane, depressed after attempting to overdose on prescription medications, committed by suicide by hanging. 

Dalia Ibelhauptaite 

The Lithuanian theatre director, opera director and playwright Dalia Ibelhauptaite was born in 1967. She has been prolific throughout her career and has directed works in Russian, Lithuanian and English. 

Ibelhauptaite became a director at the age of 15 when she co-founded the Young Theatre Company in Lithuania. Ibelhauptaite wrote and directed many plays with this company and she encouraged other to write and conducted many workshops on playwrighting. At the age of 18, she became an Assistant Director at the Vilnius State Theatre. At the age of 20, she started training at the Russian Drama Academy in Moscow where she studied both acting and directing.

By 1990, Ibelhauptaite had returned to directing and she directed a successful production of To Damascus at the Moscow Lencome Theatre. She continued to write short plays during this period. Then in 1991, Ibelhauptaitė was invited to direct a studio production of A Lawsuit at the Royal National Theatre. She also did a series of workshops on directing Russian classical plays and this series of workshops included work on the plays of Chekhov, Pushkin, Gorky, Gogol and Ostrovsky. After these workshops, she decided to base herself in London.
Ibelhauptaite has directed plays in many languages and in many countries including Lithuania, Russia, England, France, the United States, the Netherlands, Israel, China and India. During the early 21st century, she started teaching and directing at LAMDA (the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art) and she directed many productions with graduating students there. The
Some of her best known productions have been Walpurgis Night by Erofeyev and Svejk, Gamblers by Gogol, Mirandolina by Goldoni, The Impresario From Smyrna by Goldoni, The Crucible by Miller, The Lower Depths by Gorky, 
Much Ado About Nothing and Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare. 

Ibelhauptaite also started directing operas in the 21st century and she did this primarily in England, the Netherlands and in her native Lithuania. Some of her most famous opera productions are Don Giovanni, Rigoletto, Madama Butterfly, Eugene Onegin, La Forza del Destino, La Bohème and Die Zauberflöte. 

Sibylle Berg

Sibylle Berg is a modern German female playwright born in Weimar in the former East Germany.  Her work is overtly political and covers a range of themes, contexts and genres. Her drama work includes A Few People Search For Happiness And Laugh Themselves To Death / Ein paar Leute suchen das Glück und lachen sich tot. (1999), Victor's Life / Helges Leben (2000), Dog, Woman, Man / Hund, Frau, Mann (2001), Herr Mautz (2002), Eine Stunde Glück (2003), Look, The Sun Is Going Down / Schau, da geht die Sonne unter (2003), It'll Be Alright. Never Love Again! / Das wird schon. Nie mehr Lieben! (2004), Make A Wish / Wünsch dir was. Ein Musical (2006), Of Those Who Will Survive /Von denen, die überleben (2008), The Final Golden Years / Die goldenen letzten Jahre (2009), Only At Night / Nur nachts (2010), The Main Thing Is Work! / Hauptsache Arbeit! (2010), Missions Of Beauty / Missionen der Schönheit (2010), Don't Spoil The Surprise! / Lasst euch überraschen (2010), The Ladies Are Waiting / Die Damen warten (2012), Fear Travels With Us / Angst reist mit (2013, Berg's debut as stage director), My Slightly Strange Friend Walter / Mein ziemlich seltsamer Freund Walter (2014), Good Cooking / Viel gut essen, von Frau Berg (2014), And Now: The World! / Und jetzt: Die Welt! (2015), And Then Came Mirna / Und dann kam Mirna (2015), How To Sell A Murder House (2015). She also works as a stage director and she made her directing debut in 2013 with Es sagt mir nichts, das sogenannte Draußen.

Maria Aberg

Born in Arrie in Sweden in 1979, Maria Aberg is a Swedish theatre maker and director  who has worked in Sweden and in the United Kingdom. After being educated at Lund University in Sweden, she moved to the UK and studied at Royal National Theatre. As a director, she has primarily worked in English at theatres such as the National Theatre, the Royal Court Theatre and Kiln Theatre Company (formerly known as Tricycle Theatre Company. She has also directed plays throughout Europe in Sweden, Denmark, Germany and France.

Aberg is primarily known for her innovative and Feminist productions of Shakespeare plays. Her work explores the effect of sexism both subtle and overt on women's lives and identities. Her work often has a focus on the representation of women in movement and through their bodies. She often uses cross-gender casting and pop culture imagery to expose sexism and gender-based assumptions. Her work is very centred on the relationship between the performers and the audience and she regards directing as the start of a process whereby a performance takes on a life of its own as the performer/audience relationship develops during performances. The creative relationships built with performers and designers is very important to Aberg and she has worked extensively with British stage designer Naomi Dawson to create immersive creative performance spaces such as that which they created for Webster's The White Devil where a painted backdrop showed a image of the Virgin Mary while also representing the brutality of Catholic patriarchy.

Some of the plays she has directed include Stallerhof, A Winter's Tale, Pericles, King John, The White Devil, The Duchess of Malfi, Days of Significance based on Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. 

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