In honor of Lesbian Visibility Week, here are ten plays by and/or about lesbians, none of which are being performed in New York currently, but the scripts are published, and worth reading.
“The God of Venegeance” (1918) by Sholom Ash was the first play to introduce lesbian characters to an English-language audience. Produced on Broadway in 1923, it created such a scandal with the first lesbian passionate kiss between two woman on stage, that the entire company was charged with indecency.
“The Captive” by Edouard Bourdet (1926): Irène is a lesbian tortured by her love for (the unseen) Madame d’Aiguines, and attempts to leave her and marry Jacques, but can’t stay away because she’s a captive of her feelings. The authorities shut down the three-act melodrama after 190 performances.
The Killing of Sister George (1964) by Frank Marcus
June portrays a beloved character in a radio serial, a nurse named Sister George, She is nothing like the character she portrays, and abuses the woman with whom she lives. Recently, several of the characters in her show have been killed off. Will she be next?
These three are among the ten plays included in:
Forbidden Acts Pioneering: Gay and Lesbian Plays of the 20th Century
Stop Kiss by Diana Son (2000). Produced at the Public Theater in 1998, it starred Sandra Oh and Jessica Hecht as two women who are assaulted on the street after their first kiss.
Together The Five Lesbian Brothers — playwrights Maureen Angelos, Babs Davy, Dominique Dibbell, Peg Healey and Lisa Kron — have written five wildly comic plays. The first four are available in the 2000 anthology Five Lesbian Brothers/Four Plays
Voyage to Lesbos (1990) takes place in Lesbos, Illinois, on the occasion of Bonnie’s wedding day, when five mysteriously intertwined women ostensibly prepare for the golden event, while their every action works to sabotage it.
Brave Smiles…another lesbian tragedy (1992) a comedy about tragedy
The Secretaries (1994) What happens when someone new comes into a tight group? Improvs yielded Ashley Elizabeth Fratangello an homage to Elizabeth Ashley. and her SlimFast campaign.
Brides of the Moon (1996) “ We had all reached a point where we could forgive our mothers for their fucked-up lives and accept them for themselves and for doing the best they could against insurmountable odds. We created a worldwide corporation to represent those odds and a woman who had at one time been a promising astronaut, but because of her integrity had ruined any chance she might have had to advance her career. The evil corporation has her consciousness lowered to get her out of the way.”
Lisa Kron would go on to write the 2013 musical Fun Home the musical, with composer Jeanine Tesori.a stage adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel of the same name
Indecent (2015) by Paula Vogel (a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright who is herself lesbian) tells the story of The God of Vengeance, excerpting the play, and focusing on the the people involved, following them all the way through to the Holocaust.