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Megan Terry wrote lyrics for Thoughts (1973), a musical by Lamar Alford, and she has contributed prose pieces to The New York Times and Valhalla: A Modern Drama Issue. She has also written teleplays and radio plays.

(The entire section contains 1018 words.)

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Megan Terry wrote lyrics for Thoughts (1973), a musical by Lamar Alford, and she has contributed prose pieces to The New York Times and Valhalla: A Modern Drama Issue. She has also written teleplays and radio plays.

Achievements

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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.

Bibliography

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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 Breslauer’s and Helen Keyssar’s “Making Magic Public: Megan Terry’s Traveling Family Circus,” an analysis of Megan Terry’s Mollie Bailey’s Traveling Family Circus: Featuring Scenes from the Life of Mother Jones as new feminist drama. The other essays are equally valuable in that they provide a theatrical context for Terry’s work and ideas.

Keyssar, Helene. “Making Magic Public: Megan Terry’s Traveling Family Circus.” In Making a Spectacle: Feminist Essays on Contemporary Women’s Theatre, edited by Lynda Hart. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1989. Terry is the main focus of discussion.

Keyssar, Helene. “Megan Terry: Mother of American Feminist Theatre.” In Feminist Theatre. New York: Grove Press, 1985. Details Terry’s contributions to the development of a collaborative feminist theater in the United States. In addition to providing thorough bibliographic information and notes, this essay offers a valuable overview and analysis of Terry’s vital impact on American drama.

Klein, Kathleen Gregory. “Language and Meaning in Megan Terry’s ‘Musicals.’” Modern Drama 27 (December, 1984): 574-583. Focusing on the plays American King’s English for Queens, Babes in the Bighouse, Brazil Fado, and The Tommy Allen Show, Klein details how Terry’s work elucidates the relationship of language to gender. This insightful article draws connections between Terry’s work and the traditions of B-movie musicals, television, and popular culture, with an emphasis on the language of Terry’s musicals.

Leavitt, Dinah L. “Megan Terry.” In Women in American Theatre, edited by Helen Krich Chinoy and Linda Walsh Jenkins. New York: Crown, 1981. A brief overview of Terry’s works and life.

Murphy, Brenda, ed. The Cambridge Companion to American Women Playswrights. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999. This broad work contains information on Terry and her place in American theater.

Natalle, Elizabeth. Feminist Theatre: A Study in Persuasion. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1985. This survey of feminist theater features a ten-page bibliography, an index, and nine pages of analysis of Terry’s role in the development of feminist theater. The discussion focuses primarily on American King’s English for Queens and Babes in the Bighouse, placing them in the context of feminist concerns.

Savran, David. In Their Own Words: Contemporary American Playwrights. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1988. Features an in-depth interview with Megan Terry in which she describes the plays that have influenced her work and the emotions that lead to ideas for plays. She discusses specific plays and the genesis of each one, and she identifies her favorites among her plays. The interview closes with her speculations on the future of the American theater and her work with the Omaha Magic Theatre.

Schlueter, June. “Keep Tightly Closed in a Cool Dry Place: Megan Terry’s Transformational Drama and the Possibilities of Self.” Studies in American Drama, 1945-Present 2 (1987): 59-69. A lucid and interesting treatment of one of Megan Terry’s more significant transformational dramas as an example of the Open Theatre’s contribution to redefining the creation of dramatic character. Schlueter points out that Keep Tightly Closed in a Cool Dry Place is a work that strongly represents Terry’s transformational experimentation and its impact on the definition of self in American drama.

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