The Theater of Transformation: Megan Terry's Calm Down Mother
HuSS International Journal of Research in Humanities and Social Sciences
Megan Terry is one of the American influential feminist playwrights, and her plays have inspired many other dramatists to broaden their imaginations and to create dynamic and innovative experimental works. Considered among the first dramatists to embrace feminist causes and avant-garde techniques, Terry's work often presents female characters in situations that test them or require them to challenge their own gender preconceptions. Her plays encourage women to transform themselves by
... ng the changes that Terry herself envisions. Megan Terry's Calm Down Mother, one of her experimental, transformational plays demonstrates various aspects of relationships between women, first espousing the most optimal situations that a woman can strive for and then showing how women, as well as their society, place restraints on their achievement of their most favourable growth. Transformation, is, for Terry, one of the most effective theatrical means to overcome such enforced definitions. Her plays consist of so-called action-blocs that are connected not by plot or conflict development, but rather by rhythmic patterns and transformations. Terry uses only three women and minimum props for Calm Down Mother despite the fact that there are, in essence, multiple characters and blocs that make up this play. Over the course of the play, the three women take on different relationships to one another as they change from middle-aged shop owners to old women in a nursing home, to young prostitutes, sisters, friends, and mothers and daughters. In each section of the play, the characters explore what it means to be female, how society views them, and what tools they have to improve themselves.