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Judith E. BarlowJUDITH E. BARLOW


NYS Writers Institute, March 11, 2010
Authors Theatre presents
Women Playwrights of the Early 20th Century
7:30 p.m. Staged Reading | Assembly Hall, Campus Center


The NYS Writers Institute’s Authors Theatre program will present staged readings of rediscovered short plays by notable women playwrights of the early 20th century, including “Kurzy of the Sea” (1920) by Djuna Barnes and “The Rib-Person” (1918) by Rita Wellman on Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 7:30 p.m. [NOTE EARLY START TIME] in the Assembly Hall, Campus Center, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. Directed by W. Langdon Brown, and performed by equity actors, the plays appear in the new volume “Women Writers of the Provincetown Players” (2009) by Judith Barlow. The event is free and open to the public and sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute.

Women Writers of Provincetown PlayersThe New York State Writers Institute’s Authors Theatre program will present staged readings of short, rediscovered early 20th century plays from the new volume “Women Writers of the Provincetown Players” (2009) by UAlbany English Professor Judith E. Barlow.

Directed by W. Langdon Brown, and featuring equity actors known for their appearances at Capital Repertory Theatre, Theater Voices and the New York State Theatre Institute, the plays will include “Kurzy of the Sea” (1920) by Djuna Barnes and “The Rib-Person” (1918) by Rita Wellman.

The one-act play “Kurzy of the Sea” follows the fortunes of a young fisherman in his unreasonable quest to “catch” the perfect wife (“a Queen or a Saint or a Venus”). The play explores problems with contemporary ideas about marriage and wifely virtues.

Djuna Barnes, legendary bohemian born in Cornwall-on-Hudson, and an early feminist who helped to shape modernist and avant-garde sensibilities in American and English letters, is best known for her 1936 novel, “Nightwood,” which featured an introduction by the poet T. S. Eliot. Beat author William S. Burroughs proclaimed it “one of the great books of the twentieth century.”

“The Rib-Person: A Farce-Satire in Two Scenes” lampoons the exploits of Zelma, a would-be “modern woman” who rejects traditional roles marriage and motherhood, but who remains happily dependent on the men in her life.

A playwright and fiction writer who explored new social and professional roles for women in her work, Wellman was the first member of the Provincetown Players to have a play produced on Broadway: “The Gentile Wife” (1918), a drama that examined issues of marriage and anti-Semitism at the turn-of-the-century.

Enormously influential in American drama, the Provincetown Players (1915-22) are remembered primarily for productions of Eugene O’Neill’s plays, but also featured work by such notable women playwrights as Susan Glaspell, Djuna Barnes, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Louise Bryant. The authors and players were members, by and large, of a Greenwich Village bohemian community whose members summered in Provincetown on Cape Cod. Dedicated to fostering new work by Americans, the group attracted an impressive collection of talented writers, and among its offerings were some of the first modernist plays written in the United States.

Judith Barlow’s new book, “Women Writers of the Provincetown Players” features thirteen short plays written by women . From their beginnings on Cape Cod in 1915 to their disbanding in New York City in 1922, the Players staged nearly one hundred dramas, roughly a third of which were composed by women.

Judith E. Barlow is Professor of English and Women’s Studies at the University at Albany-SUNY. Her previous books include “Plays by American Women: 1930-1960” (1994); “Final Acts: The Creation of Three Late O’Neill Plays” (1985); and “Plays by American Women: 1900-1930” (1981).

W. Langdon Brown is a fellow of the New York State Writers Institute and a University at Albany English Department faculty member.  He is director of Authors Theatre for the Writers Institute where new plays by Bill C. Davis, William Kennedy, Lisa Thompson, Warren Leight, Frank Pugliese, and David Rabe, along with Brown’s own adaptation of Richard Russo’s “Mohawk” have been workshopped. He is a former chair of the University at Albany’s Department of Theatre.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.