Marsha Norman 1947–
American dramatist and scriptwriter.
Norman's plays express a bleak view of society and human nature. Her characters are people who experience loneliness and despair. Getting Out (1978), her first play, brought Norman instant acclaim as a writer of intelligence and honesty. This work explores the psychological changes in a woman just released from prison. Two actresses, onstage at the same time, tell Arlene's story before and after her imprisonment. Although some critics feel this technique is merely a gimmick, Norman is usually praised for the directness of her theme and the authenticity of her dialogue.
Norman's recent play 'night, Mother won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for drama. The play follows the emotions and reactions of a mother and daughter from the time the daughter announces her imminent suicide until she commits the act ninety minutes later. To some critics, Norman dignifies Jessie's decision by portraying her as a woman who refuses to continue a life which has become meaningless. However, to other critics, most prominently Stanley Kauffmann, Jessie seems a neurotic, vengeful daughter who makes her announcement only to torture her mother. The play is characteristic of Norman's work in its gruelling emotions and unsparing confrontation of a painful subject.
(See also Contemporary Authors, Vol. 105.)