Sophie Treadwell: A Research and Production Sourcebook


SKU: 9780313293887
Author: Dickey, Jerry
Publication Date: 01/14/1997
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Binding: Hardcover
Media: Book
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Best remembered today for her acclaimed 1928 expressionist drama Machinal, based in part on the infamous murder trial of Ruth Snyder, Sophie Treadwell was an innovative American dramatist whose career spanned almost 60 years and nearly 40 plays. A relentless experimenter in dramatic subjects, styles, and forms, Treadwell was one of a select number of American women playwrights who also actively produced and directed their own works. She was also a professional journalist, and she constantly used her writings to explore women’s personal and social struggles for independence and equality. This is the first book to chronicle her many achievements. The volume includes a career and biographical overview, detailed plot summaries and critical introductions to her plays, an annotated bibliography of works by and about her, and an exhaustive production history.

Studies of American theatre have too long omitted the accomplishments of Sophie Treadwell. Although best remembered today for only a single work, the explosive 1928 drama Machinal, Treadwell maintained a career in the theatre that spanned close to 60 years and included the authorship of approximately 40 plays. At a time when women playwrights were growing steadily among the ranks of Broadway dramatists, Treadwell was one of a select few of these women who also actively produced and directed their own plays. She became a relentless and articulate advocate for the commercial and artistic rights afforded playwrights on Broadway and around the world. She experimented with a range of dramatic structures and styles, and often tackled timely or controversial subjects which she knew would prove unpopular with commercial producers. Most significantly, she continually placed female characters in subject positions in her plays and dramatized women’s personal and social struggles for independence and equality.

In spite of her achievements, Treadwell has been largely overlooked. But after highly prominent revivals of ^IMachinal^R by the New York Shakespeare Festival in 1990 and London’s Royal National Theatre in 1993, she has begun to be recognized for her enormous contributions to the American stage. This volume is a comprehensive reference guide to her life and work. A biography and chronology summarize the most important events in her career. The book then presents summaries and critical overviews of her many plays. The work includes an extensive annotated bibliography of primary and secondary sources, and it concludes with production histories for her works.