From HowlRound by Rachel Bykowski
"I had the pleasure of viewing the Chicago Dramatists’ world premiere production of American Beauty Shop by Dana Lynn Formby, directed by Megan Shuchman and Chicago’s Oracle Theatre’s world premiere of good friday by Kristiana Rae Colón, directed by Tara Branham. Both plays featured an all-female cast and unapologetically shouted our truths...
Formby stated, “I wrote a play with all women in honor of the women who raised me.” American Beauty Shop is about a woman named Sue who is trying to send her daughter, Judy, off to MIT and keep her beauty shop, The Sugar Shack, afloat. During the play, Sue is in the process of patenting a new hair product that is sure to put The Sugar Shack back on the map. Complications strike when Judy finds out she is pregnant. What follows is a well-balanced and thoughtful argument about the pros and cons of the daughter getting an abortion or choosing to raise the baby. In the end, American Beauty Shop shows the importance of taking control of your life and being allowed to make your own choices...
Colón’s good friday, asked: who is truly to blame for violence against women? This play did not mince words. Colón unrepentantly used her play to blatantly indict the patriarchy (and the men and women who support it) for the vicious attacks on women’s bodies and the popular acceptance of rape culture. The play takes place during a college campus shooting where a group of women lock themselves in their women’s studies class for safety. The fear that no one will believe a college woman’s sexual assault story forces one woman to take matters into her own hands and send a message to all the men across her campus. The production reveals the raw and painful truth these rape survivors must endure. The performance is filled with sounds of gunfire, props toppled over, the set smeared with blood, and the actresses baring their hearts and souls onstage. At the performance I attended, at the end of the play, the actresses took their bows then immediately formed a large circle, hugging and comforting each other. This was not because the play had done damage to them, but because the play had revealed a truth about womanhood that is often buried too deep in our hearts for words to comprehend...
Plays like good friday and American Beauty Shop need to find more theatres willing to produce them across America. If the men in our field and in our audience are resolute in creating a more level playing field, then they will need to embrace our anger and support us by listening and believing in our stories. In order to change the dismal non-parity nature of the American theatre, each experience must be represented on the stage as well behind the scenes in administrative positions. We need to produce more plays by women of the LGBT community, genderqueer, women of color, and women with disabilities. Most importantly, though, we as women must lead by example and listen to each other."
Robert A. Freedman Dramatic Agency, Inc.
Representing writers since 1928.