Critical Context

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

Cloud first debuted her work on the American stage with The House Across the Street (pr. 1982). The success of her second produced play, The Stick Wife, secured for her a place among such notable feminist American playwrights as Marsha Norman, Megan Terry, and Beth Henley. Much of Cloud’s work for the stage and screen, whether original or adapted, focuses on the social concerns of women’s lives. Her plays are a product of and for feminist theater and its goals of providing insight into the lives of women otherwise unrecorded, its exposure of patriarchy through which women are subject to male dominance, and its mission of promoting gender rights.

Her plays in 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. Her works in the 1990’s and early twenty-first century, including her 1990 adaptation of Willa Cather’s O Pioneers! (1913), depict strong, intelligent, self-emancipated women, who defy traditional stereotypes and succeed on their own merits and efforts. After writing The Stick Wife, Cloud focused on ongoing racial injustice in Honor Song for Crazy Horse (pr. 1993) and surviving physical and sexual abuse in The Sirens (pr. 1992), two issues originally confronted in The Stick Wife. Cloud continues to be on the cutting edge of social issue drama.