Celebrating the members of the League of Professional Theatre Women

Archive for the tag “Bertolt Brecht”

Julia Pascal

Julia Pascal, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenPlaywright/Theatre Director/Producer
London, UK

I am the granddaughter of Romanian Jewish immigrants raised with many languages and cultures; a mixture of Northern English working class vaudeville and Central European traditions. This strange marriage has been the root of my theatre practice. It has also given me a fascination for other minorities and the experience of exile. Currently I am looking at a cross-cultural theatre piece in Arabic, Hebrew, English and French which focuses on the Bedouins which I will make with diverse theatre makers who come from other marginal groups.

Women who have led extraordinary lives are my major inspiration. In 2009, I met a NYPD cop whose witness helped create a central role in my new play Woman On The Bridge: spending time with her gave me an insight into a new, exciting world of action. In 2010, when I was in NYC, with The Dybbuk, I was supported by The League of Professional Theatre Women. This made me value the importance of our networking. I want to take what I learned from these wonderful women and extend their generosity to others.

My work has been generated by listening, particularly to older people whose lives have been dramatic. Their memories are often trigger source material. I teach writing at NYU in London and tell my students, interview your grandparents before it’s too late!

My theatre influences have been Bertolt Brecht, Joan Littlewood, Tadeusz Kantor, The Rustavelli Theatre, The Living Theatre. Watching so much European drama has encouraged me to include fragments of other languages in my texts. I speak French and German and enjoy theatre that challenges the ear and brain. My favourite movies are Oh What A Lovely War!, The Threepenny Opera, To Be Or Not To Be, Being John Malkovich, The Great Dictator, A Serious Man, Zelig, Blazing Saddles, Some Like It Hot.

Although I write theatre I would like my texts to become screenplays to engage wider audiences.

As for other important women in my life, I knew Martha Gellhorn when she was in her eighties. She taught me that to be a curious and fearless writer is to defy death.

Julia Pascal. Plays published by Oberon Books. Staged in UK, France, Germany, Poland, New York’s Theater for the New City. Scenes from text St Joan presented at The Lincoln Center’s Directors’ Lab. First woman director at The National Theatre. Associate Director at The Orange Tree Theatre. Artistic Director of Pascal Theatre Company.

Glenda Frank

Glenda Frank, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenTheatre Writer, Playwright, Educator
New York, New York USA

Three decades ago, Bertolt Brecht changed my life. I had always considered myself a realist, but Epic Theatre mystified and intrigued me. When my career ladder vanished in a reorganization, I decided to reorganize my life. I returned to graduate studies to work on Brecht for my doctoral project. My weak German skills made American theatre a wiser concentration. I earned my Ph. D. in 1992 and had found a passion for all things theatre.

Eight years ago Ibsen changed my life. After trying for years to write a full length play, I decided to update Hedda Gabler. I titled my first full-length play about a computer start-up company Tarazed Gamma. At the end my Hedda, protagonist and villain, is alive, ambitious as ever, and in her ninth (reluctant) month of pregnancy. For my second and third plays I experimented with different writing techniques and am approaching my fourth play from a new perspective. I haven’t written anything close to Brechtian yet.

As for inspiration, plots and characters continually interrupt my reading. There I am on a lazy Sunday morning, looking over the New York Times Book Review, and a plot leaps into my head, one I will need to tweak and twitch into workable shape. Or in the middle of a news article, a character insists on chatting — but leaves out whole sections of the dialogue, which I have to research to fill in. Or I’m correcting student papers, when, bang, I’m in the middle of a scene in an unfamiliar setting. People used to call this daydreaming. I’m still learning to stop what I’m doing and write everything down before finishing the article or grading the next paper. I’m trying to clear my calendar to make more time for reading and writing.

After I write a scene, I’m happy. I may tear it up a week later, but I am alive in the process. Sometimes the pleasure lasts two days and people tell me I glow. I feel lucky to have found a new passion in my 60s — and the support of the League.

Glenda Frank has just completed her third full-length play; holds a Ph.D. in Theatre; teaches at FIT, SUNY; and reviews for Plays International (a British mag)and The Fourth Estate, her series of short plays about endangered journalists, was a critical success at the 2010 NY International Fringe Festival.

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