(Patricia) Ann Jellicoe Introduction - Essay

Introduction

(Patricia) Ann Jellicoe 1927–

English dramatist.

Jellicoe is an experimental playwright who works in the "theater of demonstration" where action is considered more important than words. Her visceral approach to drama emphasizes movement and sounds rather than language in its traditional communicative sense. Jellicoe's plays reflect her belief that humans are ruled more by emotion than intellect.

Jellicoe's first play, The Sport of My Mad Mother (1958), which centers on a group of teenagers given to outbursts of violent behavior, sparked interest because of its fragmented structure, and the extensive use of chants, drumbeats, and meaningless phrases. Critics found little substance beyond the novelties of the play. Her next play, The Knack (1961), however, proved to be a popular and critical success. The play revolves around three intelligent young men who become ruled by their sexual feelings when an attractive young woman enters their lives. Most critics felt Jellicoe's non-narrated action worked well in this comedy of manners.

Since The Knack, Jellicoe has concentrated on directing community and children's theater groups, although her somewhat conventional biography play Shelley, or The Idealist (1965) met with modest success. In all her works, Jellicoe stresses improvisation and free form as she attempts to expand the possibilities of theater.

(See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 85-88 and Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 13.)