Essays and Scripts on How Mothers are Portrayed in the Theater: A Neglected Frontier of Feminist Scholarship

Author: Osnes, Beth and Anna Andes
This collection examines the nexus of mothering, feminism, and theatre. The work examines the portrayals of mothers in literature and on the performance stage, and makes a contribution to studies in dramatic literature, women’s studies, feminist theory, and theatre history.


“This collection opens the floodgates to mother power. Not only is it a collection of colliding possibilities of what “mother” means; but it is clearly a collision of disciplinary thought: feminist scholarship, theatrical performance/dramatic literature, and the emerging scholarship of motherhood. Finally, this work becomes a collision of powers: the power of performance, the power of motherhood re-appropriated, and the power of the feminist gaze.” – Prof. Kathryn Moller, Fort Lewis College

“This book is an important step in establishing a conversation about the performance of motherhood and the act of mothering as source material for artistic creation.” – Prof. Onye Ozuzu, University of Colorado, Boulder

Table of Contents

Foreword by Kathryn Moller
Introduction – Beth Osnes and Jennifer Popple
Overview of Research on Mothering and Motherhood
Part I: Pre-Industrial Revolution Work
Part II: Advent of Capitalism
History: First-Wave Feminism
Early 20th century up to 1960s
The 60s and 70s: Second Wave of Feminism
Continuing Dialogue
Description of Chapters
Works Cited
Hispanic Mothers on Stage: Women Playwrights Undermining Masculinist Values – Gisela Norat, Agnes Scott College
Monstrous Girls and Their Monstrous Mothers – Erica Stevens-Abbitt, University of Windsor
Italian Mammas and Suffering Madonnas: The Strategic Deployment of Maternal Stereotypes in the Theatre of Franca Rame – Sydney Cheek O’Donnell, University of Utah
Motherhood Displaced: Rachel Crothers’ The Three of Us and A Man’s WorldAnna Andes, College of Charleston
The Abject of My Affection: The Erotics of Stepmotherhood in Sarah Kane’s Phaedra’s Love and the Wooster Group’s To You, The Birdie (Phèdre) – Christine Woodworth, UNC-Greensboro
“She watches us watching her”: The Theatre of Maternity and the Performance of Maternal Failure in O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into NightLisa Hall, University of Colorado
Not So Sainted: Mothers on the Contemporary Irish Stage – Helen Lojek, Boise State University
Catholic Mothers in Contemporary American Drama – Heather Beasley, University of Colorado
Julie and Mama Rose: The Musical Theatre Mother – Merlaine A. Angwall, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh
The Mother Load: A One-woman Theatrical Performance – Beth Osnes
Skins: An Ensemble Dance Theatre Performance Written by Elizabeth Ingraham and Adapted for the Stage by Kathryn Moller
All Clytemnestra on the Western Front: A Techno Feminist One-woman Performance and Reconstruction of the IIiad Performed and Written By Michelle Ellsworth Edited by Ann Ellsworth