Calm Down Mother: A Transformation for Three Women
Terry, Megan (born Marguerite Duffy, American playwright, performer, photographer, author, July 22, 1932-____), “Calm Down Mother: A Transformation for Three Women,”
a __-minuten bare-stage avant-garde dramatic satire in English, set in _____, March, 1965,
© 1965 by Megan Terry;
• in Megan Terry’s Calm Down Mother: A Transformation for Three Women (New York: Samuel French, Inc., 1966), ISBN 0-573-63216-2;
• also, in Eight Plays from Off-Off Broadway, edited by Nick Orzel and Michael Smith (1938-____), with an introduction by Michael Smith (Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S..A.: Bobbs-Merrill, 1966), LCCN 66027887, 281 pp., containing, F. O’Hara’s “The General Returns from One Place to Another”; J. Cino’s “Notes on the Caffe Cino”; L. Wilson’s “The Madness of Lady Bright”; R. Cook’s “Notes on Theatre Genesis”; A. Carmines’--S. Shepard’s “Chicago”; A. Carmines’ “Notes on Judson Poets' Theatre”; J. Oppenheimer’s “The Great American Desert”; E. Stewart’s Notes on La Mama Experimental Theatre Club”; P. Foster’s “Balls, by P. Foster”; J. C. van Itallie’s “America Hurrah”; J. Chaikin’s “Notes on the Open Theatre”; M. I. Fornes’ “The Successful Life of 3”; M. Terry’s “Calm Down, Mother”;
• script/rights available from Samuel French, Inc., 25 West 45th Street, New York, New York 10010-2751, U.S.A., telephone 212-206-8990, fax 212-206-1429, http://www.samuelfrench.com; or 7623 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood, California 90046-2795, U.S.A., telephone 213-876-0570, fax 213-876-6822; or 80 Richmond Street East, Toronto, Ontario M5C 1P1, Canada, telephone 416-363-3536, fax 416-363-1108; or Samuel French, Ltd., 52 Fitzroy Street, London W1P 6JR, England, SF 301
• Cited in Play Index 1973-1977: An Index to 3,848 Plays, edited by Estelle A. Fidell (New York: The H. W. Wilson Company, 1978), ISSN 0554-3037, LCCN 64-1054, p. 325.
Woman One (f), _____; Women Two (f), _____; Woman Three (f), _____.
In the dark is a Woman’s Voice speaking with the attitude of an amused gentlewoman about three one-celled sea creatures joining together and taking root on a beach. Light reveal a bare-stage area, bare but for four chairs. Three women cluster to suggest a plant form. One separates and introduces herself to the audience in joyous wonder as Margaret Fuller, who accepts the universe. The other two assume superior attitudes and advise her to take charge of the universe. Woman One becomes Sophie at a store counter in a Jewish delicatessen in Brooklyn. Woman Three becomes Esther. Women Two becomes a nearly-grown girl. The Girl wants to buy a six-pack of ale. Sophie and Esther notice how the Girl’s hair resembles their dead mother’s. They overcome the Girl’s initial hesitancy that they touch her hair and groom it. The Girl, caught in their mood of lamentation, joins their stroking each other’s hair, until she feels suffocated and flings them away. Woman Two and Woman One address the audience about the depth of their rage. Woman Three speaks of failed human contact. The other two attack her. Suddenly they transform into New Yorkers in a charming flat. Nancy, in a hearty Oklahoma accent, assesses the flat. Her friend Sally’s has filed a spousal restraining suit. Nancy has brought scotch for a celebration. However, Nancy, the solver of everyone’s problems, breaks down and reveals that her mother has terminal bone cancer and her father is faking a heart attack to get attention. Sally and Nancy embrace. Woman Three sings over them about girlhood then separates from them. Women One and Two become, respectively, a quarrelsome Mrs. Tweed and Mrs. Watermellon in a nursing home. Woman Three, their Nurse, arrives to taunt them with cream of wheat. They rebel and trap her. The trap becomes a subway door as they taunt her. The three transform into call-girls in a lush apartment dressing and applying makeup. Inez, the whore in charge, berates Felicia and Momo, her new girls. Felicia discovers Momo’s stashed earnings, money not reported to their pimp. Inez grabs the money and finally agrees not to tell Ricky about it. The other two sarcastically promise to be good. The Three Women form a triangle to chant a self-esteem round then undertake group dishwashing at a tenement sink. Sue, who at twenty has confused information about reproduction, defends her use of contraceptive pills against the religious and also confused arguments of her mother and older sister, Sak. Ma, who can no longer take Sue’s independent attitude about sex, tells her to pack and go. Sue responds, “I’ll go, all right! I don’t need any bags. I got everything I need right here in my belly. I got everything I need for the next thirty years, and how!” The Three Women cease their dishwashing and smile at the audience. They become amused gentlewomen celebrating their breasts and bellies, saying they are enough. Together they turn away from the audience and exclaim, “Are they?”
“Three women undergo transformations in roles.”—Fidell, 325.
Premiered (on a double bill with Megan Terry’s “Keep Tightly Closed”) by the Open Theatre, March, 1965, Sheridan Square Playhouse, under the direction of Richard Gilman. The cast alternated roles, starting with Sharon Gans as Woman One, Cynthia Harris as Woman Two, and Isabelle Blau as Woman Three. Megan Terry schooled in the United States and Canada. Her plays have received worldwide productions. Adult companies could find the dialog and characterizations challenging. Choreography would benefit the transitions.
• “Megan Terry [born in Seattle, Washington] is an internationally renowned playwright, performer, photographer, and author of more than 60 published plays and musicals, produced worldwide and translated into every major language. . . . Elected to lifetime membership in the College of Fellows of the American Theatre in 1994 for ‘distinguished service to the profession by an individual of acknowledged national stature.’ She has received the 1983 Dramatists Guild Annual Award, ATA Silver Medal for ‘distinguished contributions to, and service in, the American theatre,’ Best Play Obie Award, Yale and Guggenheim Fellowships, two Rockerfeller grants and a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship.”—NCW—Megan Terry, http://mockingbird.creighton.edu/NCW/terry.htm, accessed September 22, 2001.
• Research could include Kathleen Betsko and Rachel Keonig’s Interviews with Contemporary Women Playwrights (New York: Beech Tree Books, 1987).
• Also, research could include Jan Breslauern and Helene Keyssar’s ‘Making Magic Public: Megan Terry’s Traveling Family Circus,’ in Making a Spectacle: Feminist Essays on Contemporary Women’s Theatre, edited and with an introduction by Lynda Hart (Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A.: University of Michigan Books, 1989), ISBN 0472063898, ISBN 0472093894, LCCN 88028831, 347 pp.
• Also, research could include Sally Burke’s American Feminist Playwrights: A Critical History (New York: Twayne Publishers; London: Prentice Hall International, 1996), ISBN 0805778306, LCCN 96010832, 270 pp.
• Also, research could include Helen Kirch Chinoy and Linda Walsh Jenkins’ Women in American Theatre (New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1981 and 1987), ISBN 051753729X, LCCN 89164356, 442 pp.
• Also, research could include Helene Keyssar’s Feminist Theatre: An Introduction to Plays of Contemporary British and American Women, Macmillan Modern Dramatists (London: Macmillan Publishers Ltd, 1984), ISBN 0333362942, ISBN 0333312732, LCCN 88159154, 221 pp.
• Also, research could include Felicia Hardison Londre’s “Megan Terry,” in Speaking on Stage: Interviews with Contemporary American Playwrights, edited with introductions by Philip C. Kolin and Colby H. Kullman (Tuscaloosa, Alabama, U.S.A.: University of Alabama Press, 1996), ISBN 0817307966, LCCN 95021171, 425 pp.
• Also, research could include June Schlueter’s Modern American Drama: The Female Canon (Rutherford, New Jersey, U.S.A.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press; London: Associated University Presses, 1990), ISBN 0838633870, LCCN 89045579, 308 pp.
belly, breast, female liberation, mother-daughter relationship, religion, rivalry, sister-sister relationship.