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By Erin O'Shea Sneller
“Irish Women Dramatists: 1908-2001,” a book co-authored by OSU Theater Professor Charlotte Headrick, has received an excellent review in the London Times Literary Supplement (TLS).
TLS, a literary weekly published in several languages, is widely regarded as the top journal for literary review. Its authority is acknowledged world-wide and its comprehensive coverage includes the latest and most important publications on many subjects including theatre, opera, exhibitions and film.
“Irish Women Dramatists: 1908-2001” was edited by Headrick with Eileen Kearney and published by Syracuse University Press in November, 2014. It is a collection of seven plays by Irish women with themes ranging from friendship in old age to childbirth out of wedlock.
The TLS critique titled “Burned Deep” by Jaki McCarrick, published on June 3, 2015, is not the first review Headrick and Kearney’s work has received. In fact, Patrick Lonergan, a scholar at the National University of Ireland, Galway, wrote: “Women characters dominate the Irish stage — yet, for decades, Irish women dramatists have been neglected, ignored and sometimes deliberately marginalized. This wonderful new anthology takes an important step toward addressing and redressing that problem.”
There have been additional reviews and Headrick has been made aware of some yet to come, but TLS is by far the most prestigious. When notified by the publisher that TLS was reviewing her book, Headrick says she thought it might be an error.
“I wrote Syracuse asking if it was a typo, or if it was really TLS and we had hit the big time,” Headrick says. “And then I was a little concerned. TLS reviews are not always positive. They can sometimes be very critical,” she says.
But in this case, the review was positive.
One excerpt read:
“This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the first staging (at the Royal Court) of Sarah Kane’s Blasted. Hailed by Edward Bond as “one of the most important plays on in London,” Blasted has never had a West End production and none of Sarah Kane’s work has ever graced the stages of the National Theatre. Yet she has had a major influence on modern playwriting; with her fearless, often brutal plays she “burst a road” (to quote Patrick Kavanagh) for the impenitent female voice, which in turn, one could argue, has made possible work such as this new anthology from Syracuse University Press, edited by Eileen Kearney and Charlotte Headrick, of seven plays by Irish female writers – some of which have never been produced in Ireland.”
“Now, gathered together in this comprehensively annotated, well-produced volume – with a scholarly introduction, made up primarily of a putative history of Irish drama, and a detailed biography preceding each play – seven female voices create together a real force, a palpable clamour, as if demanding, collectively, that their plays be remembered and performed. The book effectively thrusts these writers’ works into the Irish canon, and rightly so. As Kearney and Headrick state at the end of their introduction, ‘not only do these women belong to Ireland, but they also belong to the world.’ ”
“After many, many years of work on this volume, it is terrific validation,” Headrick says. “And more importantly, it helps to get the word out about how terrific these plays are.”
To see the complete TLS review, go to: http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/
For additional information:
“Rewriting the Script,” Terra Magazine, October, 2014