Darrah Cloud Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Darrah Cloud was born in 1955 in northern Illinois and later moved to New York City. She earned a bachelor of science degree from Goddard College and received a dual master of fine arts degree in English and theater from the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop in Iowa City.

Much of Cloud’s work for the stage and screen, whether original or adapted, focuses on the social concerns of women’s lives. Her early plays of the 1970’s and 1980’s depict women’s struggles to gain autonomy within a culture of socially prescribed and oppressive roles, as well as their efforts to find and employ authentic voices to break the silence of sexual repression. Later works, in the 1990’s and early twenty-first century (including her adaptation of Willa Cather’s 1913 novel O Pioneers!), depict strong, intelligent, self-emancipated women who defy traditional stereotypes and succeed on their own merits and efforts. Other plays raise awareness about ongoing racial injustice in the United States (The Honor Song for Crazy Horse) and about surviving sexual and other physical abuse (The Sirens).

Cloud first debuted her work on the American stage in 1982 with The House Across the Street. The success of her second produced play, The Stick Wife, secured her place among feminist playwrights of note in the United States. Set in the turbulent 1960’s, this social drama employs rich symbolism to reveal connections among racial, social, and gender inequities in the United States. The Stick Wife chronicles the life of its title character, Jessie Bliss, a woman who seeks asylum in her own back yard beneath a canopy of red dresses in an attempt to protest, and escape for a period of time, the domestic confinement of her marriage to a pipe-bombing Ku Klux Klan member and murderer of four young black girls....

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Brown, Janet. Taking Center Stage: Feminism in Contemporary U.S. Drama. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1991. Cloud is one of ten playwrights whose writing is analyzed in terms of its relationship to feminist theory. Employing close textual analysis, Brown examines how Cloud’s dramatic works have contributed to an expanded definition of feminist drama in the United States; in particular, she focuses on how Cloud gives voice to otherwise silenced and marginalized women.

Miles, Julia, ed. Playwriting Women: Seven Plays from the Women’s Project. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann, 1993. This collection from the Women’s Project includes Cloud’s adaptation of Willa Cather’s O Pioneers! Miles’s introduction to the volume provides both a history of the project and an analysis of Cloud’s significant contributions to the American stage as a leading feminist playwright.