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Ksenija Horvat Scottish Women Playwrights against Zero Visibility New Voices Breaking Through

By Ksenija Horvat


Women playwrights have always been an important creative force in Scottish theatre, and though they may have been in minority, their voices rose above the social constrictions of the society they lived in. In the past centuries, many wrote anonymously, mostly for family entertainment, but there were also those who had their plays published either under their own name or a pseudonym. One only has to remember Joanna Baillie (1762-1835), native of Bothwell in Lanarkshire, whose historio-biographical play De Montford was produced at Drury Lane in 1800, with Sarah Siddons and John Philip Kemble in the main roles. A century later, the authors such as Naomi Mitchison (1897-1999), Ada F. Kay (aka A. J. Stewart) and Ena Lamont Stewart (1912-) were hailed as representatives of a small but significant number of women dramatists whose work focused on the positionality of women in family and society at large. These dramatists wrote about domesticity, femininity and gender struggle in predominately patriarchal Scottish society long before early feminist movements began to identify and systematise their ideological agendas Out of the three, Naomi Mitchison is better known as a novelist and a poet, however, she also wrote plays which nowadays often take the back seat to her other writing output. Like many of her contemporaries, she had a keen interest in Scottish history and published a collection of History Plays for Schools (1939). In the aftermath of the world war, many authors turned to historical and social themes trying to make sense of the changing world around them, and revisit the way Scotland’s past was perceived at home and abroad. Ada F. Kay turned to these topics, gaining international acclaim with The Man from Thermopylae (1959), a powerful allegory on the human condition set against the background of ancient Spartans ’ fateful battle against Persian armies in 479 BC, and March Home Tomorrow | 143ÉTUDES ÉCOSSAISES 10 (1964). One of the most significant women authors in the postwar Scotland, her work was rarely performed after the late 1950s. Ena Lamont Stewart, a prolific author with the pendant for plays with a socialist bite, suffered similar fate. In he

Year: 2013
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