Megan Terry Analysis
One of the most prolific playwrights of the New Theater in the United States, Megan Terry is linked with the Open Theatre , which she helped form with Joseph Chaikin and Michael Smith in 1963. The work that brought international attention to Terry is Viet Rock, the first well-publicized play about Vietnam to be produced in the United States. Terry and the Open Theatre created an improvisational workshop atmosphere, in which actors, directors, and playwrights could form a living theater experience, disorienting audience expectations through “transformations” in which actors, settings, times, or moods may alter without transition or apparent logic. Although some critics find this experience alienating or confusing, others hail the technique as a significant contribution to the development of a truly living theater experience. Her plays’ earthy language, sexual and political content, musical segments, humor, and vaudeville touches all blend to create lively, dynamic experiences for audiences. Her innovative work has received numerous awards, including the Stanley Drama Award (1965), WGBH Award (1968), Latin American Festival Award (1969), Obie Award (1970), Earplay Award (1972), Dramatists Guild Award (1983), and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Creative Artists Public Service Grant, Rockefeller Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 1971, she became resident playwright at the Omaha Magic Theater.
Babnich, Judith. “Family Talk.” Review of Family Talk. Theatre Review 39 (May, 1987): 240-241. Although this article is only a brief review of one play, it reveals important details about how many of Terry’s works are produced through collaboration with psychologists, social workers, artists, and community activists. Babnich points out how Terry uses music, multimedia effects, and comedy to achieve serious social criticism and a call for action and social healing.
Betsko, Kathleen, and Rachel Koenig, eds. Interviews with Contemporary Women Playwrights. New York: Beech Tree Books, 1987. Includes an informative interview in which Terry discusses her creative process, influences on her work, women in theater, sources of her ideas, and the state of American theater. In addition, she reminisces about her work with the Open Theatre and the Omaha Magic Theatre as well as with a number of America’s most significant contemporary playwrights.
Diamond, Elin. “(Theoretically) Approaching Megan Terry: Issues of Gender and Identity.” Art and Cinema 1 (Fall, 1987). Terry is the main focus of discussion.
Fenn, Jeffery W. Levitating the Pentagon: Evolutions in the American Theatre of the Vietnam War Era. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1992. Contains an excellent analysis of Megan Terry’s Viet Rock as transformational drama and as political commentary. Fenn studies the play in the contexts of both the experimental theater of the 1960’s and the earliest American plays that focused on the Vietnam War.
Hart, Lynda, ed. Making a Spectacle: Feminist Essays on Contemporary Women’s Theatre. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1989. A wide-ranging collection of essays that includes Jan...
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