Megan Terry, Feminist Playwright and Rock Musical Innovator, Dies at 90

Megan Terry, Obie Award winner, founding member of the Open Theater Group, prolific feminist playwright, and writer and director of rock musicals on the New York stage before “Hair,” He died in an Omaha hospital on April 12th.she was 90.

Elizabeth Primamore, the author of a book about Terry and four other female authors, confirmed her death on Monday.

Terry’s “Vietnam War Film” opened at his Off-Broadway home, the Martinique Theater, on November 10, 1966, during the Vietnam War. East Village.

The rock number’s lyrics are poignant, pointing out, “The war melted into one/The war was on when I was born.” One song warns against optimism: “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket/The basket wears out and you die young/Better marry a tree or an elephant/You die young.”

Dialogue played out in politics and popular culture. Taking a twist on President Lyndon B. Johnson’s campaign slogan “Forever with LBJ,” one character said, “Go gay with LBJ.” “I lost my green beret on the road to Mandalay.”

“Viet Rock” was considered to be the first American stage production dealing with the Vietnam War.

Critic Dan Sullivan wrote in the Los Angeles Times that “the work ended with an image of rebirth”, but “the image that sticks in the viewer’s mind is that of a pile of dead soldiers, and men too.” Women are also muttering, ‘Who needs this?

The New York Times panned the piece. Walter Kerr, the paper’s chief theater critic, said: dismissed it as “essentially thoughtless, gut noise.” village voice called it an anomaly.

A year later, one of the cast members, Jerome Ragni, and two partners moved to Broadway in 1968 to stage the musical “Hair” at the Public Theatre, which was an overwhelming international success.

Terry is in his mid-thirties and wrote about “Approaching Simone” (1970). Simone Weil, French activist philosopher. He won an Obie Award for Best Off-Broadway Drama.

Jack Kroll wrote in Newsweek magazine that “Simone” is a “rare theatrical event” filled with “the light, the shadows, the weight of human life and the jubilant agony of a constant attempt to create humanity”. Clive Barnes of The Times called it “a brilliant theatrical coup”.

Marguerite Duffy was born on July 22, 1932 in Seattle, the daughter of Harold and Marguerite (Henry) Duffy. Her father was a businessman. She was fascinated by theater after Marguerite saw her play when she was seven years old. Her passion, she explains, was ridiculed by her father, who disapproved of her, giving her nicknames such as Tallulah her blackhead and Sarah her heartburn. attached. bank head and Bernhardt.

In high school she Seattle Repertory Playhouse, learns early that politics and theater can be powerful but troublesome companions. The Playhouse closed in 1951 due to pressure from the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Marguerite won a scholarship banff art school Qualified in acting, directing and design in Canada. Returning to his home country, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Education from the University of Washington.

Then she got a teaching job Cornish School of Allied Arts, today at the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. Her first plays, including Grass by the Sea and Go Out and Move Your Car, were criticized for their candor, leading to two drastic steps.

She began her theater work under a pseudonym. Megan is the Celtic roots of her first name, and Terry was her homage to the 19th-century British actress. Ellen TerryAnd she moved to New York City.

Her New York plays include The Magic Realist (1960), Ex-Miss Copper Queen on a Set of Pills (1963), When My Girlhood Was Still All Flowers (1963), and Eat at Joe’s” (1964) and “Store tightly closed in a cool, dry place” (1967).

‘Plays by Megan Terry’ is an anthology of three of her works: ‘Approaching Simone’, ‘Babes in the Bighouse’ and ‘Viet Rock’.credit…Broadway Play Pub

One of Terry’s most talked-about techniques at Open Theater, an experimental New York company founded by Joseph Chaikin in 1963, was known simply as transformation. An actor may start speaking in one language and suddenly switch to another, taking on the identity of a new character.

In the “Bet Rock” scene, one actor is shot and gestures while another catches him. “Then suddenly the sound changes, the body is held aloft, and the group strangely rotates into a helicopter, transporting the wounded to Saigon,” critic Michael Feingold wrote in 1966. I am writing to The Times. A few seconds later he wrote: , the actors turned into a hospital and “immediately thereafter, without hesitation, converted to a Buddhist funeral.”

The Open Theater’s last production was The Night Walk (1973), written by Ms. Terry, Sam Shepard and Jean-Claude Van Italie, which was performed in the repertoire along with two other works. Mel Gussow of The Times called it “extremely enjoyable” and had a “strong and unsettling effect”.

Terry also worked at the Firehouse Theater in Minneapolis. She moved to Nebraska in her 40s, where she worked as a playwright at Omaha’s Magic Her Theater and continued to produce experimental work.

At the end of her career, she wrote 70 playThey include “Babes in the Big House: A Documentary Fantasy Musical About Life in Prison” (1974); (1983), “Dinners in the Blender” (1987) and “Breakfast Cereal” (1991).

Much of her work was at least partially aimed at a younger audience. “The snow queen” (1991) was a playful adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales. “Headlights” (1990) was an investigation into illiteracy.

Terry was the founder, along with five others, of the short-lived but influential Women’s Theater Council in 1972. She won the Dramatists Guild Award in 1983. Along with her wife Joe Anne Her Schmidtmann, Sarah Kimberlein, she was the editor.of “Right brain vacation photo”(1992) is a picture book that summarizes the works of Magic Theater over the last 20 years.

As for Terry, Mr. Schmidtman survived.

Saying goodbye was one of Terry’s least favorite activities. When she was completing her education degree, she remembered the pain of losing her junior year class, which she had been teaching students for a year. In her career, she found ways to avoid such forced separations.

“I was always in a theater company and loved being with people over the years,” she said in a 1992 interview at Wichita State University. “It satisfies my emotional and intellectual needs. I come from a large family, but theater gives me the opportunity to recreate my family in my own image.”

Alex Traub contributed to the report.

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