Gloria: A Life, by Tony-nominated Emily Mann, captures Gloria Steinem’s ascent from a young journalist relegated to “women’s interest” stories to an icon of the feminist movement. Active in promoting women’s rights from the 1970s on, she is famous for saying, “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” The play is performed in two acts: the first act is the story of Steinem’s life, and the second is a “talking circle,” in which the audience is invited to carry on a conversation about the themes of the play.
Suzan-Lori Parks’s plays always speak their own language, but in 2000’s Fucking A the playwright one-upped herself. The women of the play have developed their own semi-secret language called TALK that allows them to hide in plain sight among callous men. It’s as beautiful and elegant an illustration of female solidarity as any in Parks’s work, and indicative of her gift for fashioning skewed worlds that make us see our own world anew. She doesn’t so much pull back the curtain as shoot it through the back wall.