PLAYS FOR TODAY BY WOMEN
eds. Rebecca Gillieron & Cheryl Robson
Aurora Metro Books, £15.99 pbk
In this collection of plays by women you will find five full-length plays and a short play, where you can get a snapshot of the range of plays being written by women at the moment. Of course, there were plays that I preferred to others, the most surprising and moving being ‘Yours abundantly, from Zimbabwe’, about a woman who adopts a school. It’s never quite clear, not even at the end of the play by Gillian Plowman, whether the woman has been conned or not. ‘From the mouths of mothers’ by Amanda Stuart Fisher is a harrowing (yet at moments, hopeful,) verbatim drama about child abuse; it’s really moving, more so when you consider these stories are true.
I found the three other full-length plays less appealing, ‘Welcome to Ramallah’ by Sonja Linden and Adah Kay is about two Jewish sisters in Palestinine, ‘The Awkward Squad’ by Karen Young tells the story of three generations of Northern women in Britain today, and ‘Sweet cider’ is a story about two Pakistani girls who have run away, by Em Hussain, which felt like the most underdeveloped of the plays, but also the most theatrical.
The expanse of subjects this short collection covers shows that women are not just writing about the kitchen sink, the claim so often levelled.
The darkly comic short play ‘For a button’ by Rachel Barnett was my favourite, the fact it’s been included in this collection is great as having your short play performed at a scratch night for no income is so often the way that new writers start to learn their craft and get noticed. So often these plays are never seen or heard of again, so having them in print is a nice record of that moment before what came next for the playwright.
That is very much what this collection is good for, to provide a snapshot of an exciting time for female writers; Plays for today by women, plus various exciting events and groups led by women in theatre, and the new plays by women I’ve seen recently, make me think that something positive is really about to happen. Perhaps it’s time for the seventeen per cent to become more.