52 Plays in 52 Weeks: Week 19

The Female of the Species by Joanna Murray Smith

I know that the Board of Studies recently updated the Drama Prescribed Texts for 2015-2017 but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t re-read over some of the ones on the current list (for one more year at least) in order to help my students with their Individual Projects!

So I have had a bit of a binge read over the last few days (so much for one play a week!) and will be reading a couple of the plays on the current list as well as those on the new list. I’m reading the texts on the new list to help me make a decision as to what I will teach at the end of this year!

I’m a huge Joanna Murray Smith fan. I’m surprised this is the first play of hers I’ve written about in the challenge. It is a favourite so I’m glad it’s on the list.

The plot is loosely based on an incident whereby well known feminist Germaine Greer was held at gunpoint in her own home by a disturbed student. Margot, the main protagonist draws parallels with Greer and Molly with the disturbed student whose life has been affected by her mother’s beliefs that were so heavily influenced by Margot’s writing as well as Margot herself. Margot, stuck for what to write about in her new book, questions where her beliefs lie and what she will, in fact, write about. Molly meanwhile has had all of hers shattered and is stuck, lost, seeking retribution for what Margot has written. In comes Margot’s daughter Tess, exhausted by her responsibilities as a mother and unhappy in her marriage to further stir the pot.

Views on feminism and the role of feminism in our society today is the broader questions being asked in this play. Something I find compelling and relevant to all women. It is certainly thought provoking and the use of comedy to propel the dramatic questions makes it even more interesting to read. Well paced and highly engaging. Aside from being an HSC text there could be possibilities to adapt some of Margot’s dialogue into a short monologue.

Image Credit: The “Who Needs Feminism?” Tumblr  where the picture was sourced can be found here.


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