Keely and Du Critical Context
by Jane Martin

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Critical Context

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

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Keely and Du has been hailed as a major achievement signaling Jane Martin’s dramatic development and portrayal of a challenging subject. It is the eleventh play of the dramatist, who, by 2002, had nearly two dozen plays to her credit. It is also her most well-known play. In 1993, it was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in drama, and, in 1994, it won the American Theatre Critics Association Award for Best New Play. Because of its topical subject, it is frequently performed at colleges and universities throughout the United States.

The identity of the playwright is shrouded in mystery. Jane Martin has never made a public appearance or spoken about her work in any medium. Instead, she is represented by Jon Jory, the former director of the annual Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville, Kentucky, who also directed the premiere of Keely and Du. Jory’s wife, Marcia Dixcy Jory, has also written the introduction to the first collection of Martin’s plays. This situation has many critics and insiders speculate that “Jane Martin” is really the pseudonym of either Jon Jory alone, or the team of Jon and Marcia Dixcy Jory. The Jories have denied these speculations, stating instead that Martin prefers to work in private. However, because all of Martin’s plays are written so clearly from a woman’s perspective and, like Keely and Du, focus on issues vital to American women, critics have argued that maybe the male playwright Jon Jory is hiding behind a female pseudonym to avoid the unjustified but possible backlash by people who would not grant a man the moral right to write a play from a woman’s viewpoint.