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“There’s a major rediscovery at the Mint Theater Company and what else is new?”1 wrote Peter Filichia of our production of Hazel Ellis’ WOMEN WITHOUT MEN. A workplace drama laced with biting humor, WOMEN WITHOUT MEN is set in the teacher’s lounge of a private girls’ boarding school in Ireland in the 1930s. The play explores the clash of conflicting natures and petty competitions that erupt amongst the school’s cloistered teaching staff.
By Maya Cantu
George Bernard Shaw called St. John Hankin “the Mephistopheles of the new comedy.” At Hankin’s funeral, Shaw eulogized him as “a most gifted writer of the high comedy of the kind that is a stirring and important criticism of life.” Granville Barker rated THE CHARITY THAT BEGAN AT HOME as the best of Hankin’s plays and Hankin himself agreed.
St John (pronounced Sin Gin) Hankin began to contribute humorous essays and dramatic parodies including new “last-acts” for well-known plays to Punch magazine 1898. In 1901 some of his contributions were anthologized as Mr. Punch’s Dramatic Sequels. Hankin also contributed about seventy drama reviews to The London Times before beginning his career as a playwright in 1903 with The Two Mr. Wetherby’s. Hankin was actively involved in running the Stage Society, a London theater group that supported plays of literary merit, founded in part, to avoid the Lord Chamberlain’s censorship.
The success of DIANA OF DOBSON’S turned an unknown writer by the name of Cicely Hamilton into the toast of the English stage. Hamilton’s clever manipulation of “cup and saucer” conventions of the London stage offered theatergoers a romantic comedy that was at the same time thoroughly illuminating and thought provoking.
Cicely Hamilton (1872-1952) wrote several plays tackling social issues. But it was Diana of Dobson’s that caught London’s eye and heart with it’s light touch and romantic bent in spite of it’s consideration ‘serious issues.’ First performed in London in 1908, the play was “accepted as a true picture of the shop-assistant’s life,” to quote from a 1908 press clipping that, “convinced people that something should be done about it.”
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