Southern Women Playwrights and the Atlanta
Hub: Home Is the Place Where You Go
Linda Rohrer Paige
Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in.
—Robert Frost, “The Death of the Hired Man”
Move over, Humana. Atlanta takes center stage. This city of the “New South” teems with excitement and women playwrights definitely want to go there: “The city is home to dozens of playwrights whose scripts are being produced here and elsewhere, from Washington, D.C. and Charleston, S.C., to Dublin, Ireland, and Edinburgh, Scotland,” reports the Atlanta Journal and Constitution (Kloer, Crouch, Fox, and Sherbert). This new, transformed Atlanta has become a mecca for new voices—where Old South meets Gay Pride, where female playwrights break rules as fast as box office records, and where politics, quite often, flavor the plays. Atlanta's stages bustle with activity from these Southern women playwrights who choose to live and work in the city. In Atlanta, they feel most exposed to humanity's diversity.
In the 1960s and 1970s, this new metropolitan city absorbed a wave of enthusiastic newcomers as an unprecedented building boom swept over the city, and into this fertile field, women actors and playwrights planted “roots.” Opportunities for dramatists, those “homegrown” or “imported,” increased, and like roots stimulated to greater growth when transferred to a larger pot, these women flourished. Women who acted on the stage, as well as those who aspired to write for it, relished the possibilities inherent in living in an area that supported their many talents.
As early as 1985, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution celebrated a $20,000,000 NEA check to fund the arts, as the city hailed its corporate leaders for recognizing the value of the arts to the community: “I don't know whether Atlanta would have boomed economically as much as it has in the last