Westbeth Playwrights Feminist
Collective ‘s work has been selected for its permanent collection by the New York Historical Society

Co-founding playwrights l-r Sally Ordway, Susan Yankowitz, Christina Maile, Gwen Gunn, Patricia Horan, Dolores Walker (center)

Co-founding playwrights l-r Sally Ordway, Susan Yankowitz, Christina Maile, Gwen Gunn, Patricia Horan, Dolores Walker (center)

The Westbeth Playwrights Feminist Collective was a group of professional women playwrights in New York active from 1971 to 1975.

Co-founder-playwrights were Dolores Deane Walker, Gwen Gunn, Christina (Chryse) Maile, Helen Duberstein, Patricia Horan, Sally Ordway and Susan Yankowitz. Megan Terry and Dacia Maraini were among the guest playwrights.

The Advisory Board included Gloria Steinem, Muriel Rukeyser, Eleanor Perry, Florynce Kennedy, along with Margaret Croyden, Alice Denham, Elizabeth Fisher, Ellen Frankfort, Carol Greitzer, Tania, Alix Kates Shulman, and Anita Steckel.

Franklins Bride,  by Chryse Maile, photo Pat Horan, Shown Helen Pugatch, Michael Darrow, Joel l Simon,Tom Leo, Alix Elias, 1972  Wicked Women Revue

Franklins Bride, by Christina (Chryse) Maile, photo: Pat Horan, Shown: Helen Pugatch, Michael Darrow, Joel Simon,Tom Leo, Alix Elias. 1972 Production: Wicked Women Revue

The plays of the Westbeth Playwrights Feminist Collective featured such women’s issues as religious patriarchy, work-place discrimination, dominance/submission relationships, historical figures, masquerade, and sexual harassment

Their plays transcended the limiting context of agit-prop theatre by discarding the revenge themes current in much feminist writing at the time, and instead strove to accurately reflect the complexity of women’s lives and celebrate their accomplishments.

Cast of UP: with Danny DiVito, Rhea Perlman, Cathy Heriza , Ilan Mamber, and others

Cast of UP: with Danny DiVito, Rhea Perlman, Cathy Heriza , Ilan Mamber, and others

While the Collective used both male and female actors – unusual for feminist stage productions in the 1970s – the company offered serious employment opportunities for women stage managers, directors, producers, and lighting designers.

New York Historical Society ABSTRACT: Introduction to the Westbeth Playwrights Feminist Collective collection:

Records of the short-lived but groundbreaking Westbeth Playwrights’ Feminist Collective, one of the earliest feminist theater groups in the United States. Incorporated 1972 and dissolved 1976, the WPFC was headquartered at the historic Westbeth Artists’ Housing on West Street, Manhattan, and produced plays by feminist authors focused on issues central to the women’s movement like sexual harassment and workplace inequality. The collection includes scripts, publicity material, articles and reviews, some correspondence, ephemera, and photographs of select production scenes and WP members.

More information: Westbeth Playwrights Feminist Collective on Wikipedia

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