Perpich News

Spotlight on Women Playwrights from Perpich Library

March 21, 2023

This month, the library is highlighting plays written by some of the brilliant women playwrights from our extensive play collection. Check out our catalog for more titles!

All items on this list are available at the Perpich library. Click on titles for more information.

“The more you go to a theatre and the more you hear stories you aren’t necessarily familiar with, the more open you become.” – Lynn Nottage, Pulitzer Prize winning, American playwright

1. Art by Yasmina Reza
Serge has bought a modern painting for a huge sum of money. Marc hates it and cannot believe that a friend of his could possibly want such a work. Yvan attempts, unsuccessfully, to placate both sides. If your friendship is based on tacit mutual agreement what happens when one person does something completely different and unexpected?

2. By the Way, Meet Vera Stark by Lynn Nottage
Tells the story of Vera Stark, a Black maid and budding actress who has a tangled relationship with her boss, a white Hollywood star desperately grasping to hold onto her career.

3. The Clean House and Other Plays by Sarah Ruhl
This volume is the first publication of Sarah Ruhl, who is fast leaving her mark on the American stage. In the award-winning The Clean House—a play of uncommon romance and uncommon comedy—a maid who hates cleaning dreams about creating the perfect joke, while a doctor who treats cancer leaves his heart inside one of his patients. This volume also includes Eurydice, Ruhl’s reinvention of the tragic Greek tale of love and loss, Late: A Cowboy Song, and Melancholy Play.

4. Cost of Living by Martyna Majok
Winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Cost of Living deftly challenges the typical perceptions of those living with disabilities and delves deep into the ways class, race, nationality, and wealth can create gulfs between people, even as they long for the ability to connect. Eddie, an unemployed truck driver, and his estranged ex-wife, Ani, find themselves unexpectedly reunited after a terrible accident leaves her quadriplegic. John, a brilliant PhD student with cerebral palsy, hires Jess, a first-generation recent graduate who has fallen on desperate times, as his new aide.

5. The Detroit Project by Dominique Morisseau
Three provocative dramas make up Dominique Morisseau’s sweeping examination of the sociopolitical history of Detroit: Detroit ’67, which takes place during the race riots of 1967, Paradise Blue, set in a small jazz club in Detroit’s Blackbottom neighborhood, and Skeleton Crew, which explores an auto plant on the eve of the 2008 financial collapse. With empathetic storytelling and an ear for the voice of her home community, Morisseau brings to light the race and class divides of not only Detroit but the nation as a whole.

6. Fairview by Jackie Sibblies Drury
Winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Grandma’s birthday approaches. Beverly is organizing the perfect dinner, but everything seems doomed from the start: the silverware is all wrong, the carrots need chopping and the radio is on the fritz. What at first appears to be a family comedy takes a sharp, sly turn into a startling examination of deep-seated paradigms about race in America.

7. The Mountaintop by Katori Hall
Katori Hall’s Olivier-award-winning play transports us to Room 306 of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. It is 3 April 1968, the eve of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who has just delivered his renowned oration, ‘I’ve been to the Mountaintop.’ The Mountaintop is an inspired re-imagining of the last night of one of America’s most momentous historical figures. Katori Hall fuses humor, political and personal drama, and spirituality to create a charming yet powerful piece of theatre.

8. Rockets and Blue Lights by Winsome Pinnock
Amid the gloom of Victorian England, a black sailor, Thomas, prepares to take one last voyage, while an aging painter, J.M.W. Turner, seeks artistic inspiration in a half-remembered story. In twenty-first-century London, an actress finds herself handcuffed by history – two centuries after abolitionists won her ancestors their freedom. Winsome Pinnock’s astonishing play retells British history through the prism of the slave trade. Fusing fact with fiction, past with present, the powerfully personal with the fiercely political, Rockets and Blue Lights asks who owns our past – and who has the right to tell its stories?

9. Venus by Suzan-Lori Parks
Using the metaphor of a carnival freak-show, Suzan-Lori Parks finds poetry and comedy, as well as drama and meaning, in one of the most embarrassing episodes in our collective history: the life of the Venus Hottentot, a South African woman who, due in part to her enormous posterior, was exhibited in a cage throughout Europe and exploited professionally by the doctor who loved her.

10. Water By the Spoonful by Quiara Alegría Hudes
Somewhere in Philadelphia, Elliot has returned from Iraq and is struggling to find his place in the world. Somewhere in a chat room, recovering addicts forge an unbreakable bond of support and love. The boundaries of family and community are stretched across continents and cyberspace as birth families splinter and online families collide.

All items on this list are available at the Perpich Library.