McCarter Theatre Blog

Who Says Women Aren’t Funny?

Posted by Erica Nagel on March 18th, 2011

We hope you’ll join us this Sunday, March 20th for a special post-show discussion: Crimes of the Heart in Conversation: Women, Comedy, and the Legacy of Beth Henley.

This cross-disciplinary symposium, featuring Tony-nominated playwright Lisa Kron, former Saturday Night Live staff writer Patricia Marx, Chair of Princeton University’s Department of Psychology Deborah Prentice, and Princeton University Contemporary Drama Scholar Tamsen Wolff  will explore (and explode!) the common assertion that women “have no sense of humor.”  We’ll discuss how Beth Henley’s work changed the landscape for women writing comedic plays, ways in which comedy upends gender norms, and how humor intersects with mental health. This conversation between four brilliant and hilarious women promises to be lively, engaging, and unpredictable!

This event is free and open to the public. Whether you’re seeing the show that afternoon, already saw it, or have your tickets for next week, you won’t want to miss this illuminating conversation.

The discussion will begin directly following the 2pm performance on Sunday, March 20th (approximate discussion start time: 4:30pm) in the Matthews Theatre at McCarter Theatre Center.

The McCarter “In Conversation” Series consists of symposium-style discussions among leading artists, scholars, and other public figures that foster cross-disciplinary exploration of big questions and concepts in McCarter’s plays. The spring 2011 “In Conversation” Series is co-sponsored by Princeton University’s Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies.

Click here to buy tickets for the March 20th Performance of Crimes of the Heart!


Participant Bios:

Lisa Kron has been writing and performing theater since coming to New York from Michigan in 1984.  Her plays include In The Wake, Well, and 2.5 Minute Ride. She is a resident playwriting fellow at The New Play Institute at Arena Stage. She is also a founding member of the Obie and Bessie Award winning theater company, the Five Lesbian Brothers. Upcoming projects include a musical based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel, Fun Home in collaboration with composer Jeanine Tesori, and an appearance as dance critic Walter Terry in Richard Move’s dance theater piece Martha @… The 1963 Interview at Dance Theater Workshop, March 30 - April 1. Lisa is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Cal Arts/Alpert Award, an NEA/TCG playwriting fellowship and grants from the Creative Capital Foundation and New York Foundation for the Arts. She teaches playwriting at Yale Drama School.

Patricia Marx is a staff writer for The New Yorker and a former writer for Saturday Night Live and Rugrats. Additionally, her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Vogue, and the Atlantic Monthly. She is the author of several books, including the children’s books Now Everybody Really Hates Me and Meet My Staff and the novel Him Her Him Again The End of Him, which was a finalist for the Thurber Prize for Humor. Her new novel, Starting From Happy, will be published this summer. Marx was the first woman on the Harvard Lampoon. She made her way up the ranks as an undocumented fish-slimer and can take a baked potato out of the over with her bare hand. 

Deborah Prentice is the Alexander Stewart 1886 Professor of Psychology and Chair of the Psychology Department at Princeton University. She did her undergraduate work at Stanford University, and received her Ph.D. from Yale University. She has been at Princeton ever since, studying the ways in which social norms, beliefs, and values influence people’s perceptions, feelings, and behaviors in social contexts. Much of her research has focused on gender and, in particular, on the ways in which social beliefs and conventions regarding gender serve to reproduce and sustain gender differences and divisions. She has also studied a number of issues related to student life, including the social dynamics of college drinking. Prentice has received research grants from the National Science Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Russell Sage Foundation. At Princeton, she teaches courses on Social Psychology, the Psychology of Moral Behavior, and the Behavioral Ecology of Sex Differences.

Tamsen Wolff is Associate Professor in the Department of English, where she specializes in contemporary drama and performance, gender studies, directing, and dramaturgy. Her book, Mendel’s Theatre: Heredity, Eugenics, and Early Twentieth-Century American Drama was published by Palgrave in 2009. She has directed numerous new plays, including Jane Anderson’s Night Call and Smart Choices for The New Century at McCarter Theatre, and four plays by C. Denby Swanson, among them, Waterless Places at the Public Domain Theatre and Marguerite’s Book at Frontera’s Hyde Park Theatre, both in Austin, TX. Wolff has also worked as a dramaturg on a number of projects, including Anne Bogart’s American Silents and the Building Association’s Xtravganza! She is developing a new project entitled The Sensation of Theatre: Speculations on Spectatorship that aims to offer possible methods of interpretation that take account of the embodied spectator within a variety of historical, cultural and theoretical contexts.

Nuts and Bolts:

What: Post-Show Panel Discussion on Women and Comedy

When: Sunday, March 20th, 2011, directly following the 2pm Performance (approximate start time: 4:30 pm)

Where:  Matthews Theatre, McCarter Theatre Center

Who: Curated by Erica Nagel; Moderated by Tamsen Wolff; Featuring Lisa Kron, Patricia Marx, and Deborah Prentice

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