Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Son & Daughters

Robert Hogan and David Van Pelt in Rutherford & Son.

When I read that Githa Sowerby hid her gender for the original production of Rutherford & Son, which was attributed to "K.G. Sowerby," I was glad to be living in 2012 and not 1912. Times have certainly changed for the better, I told myself with confidence.

Then I recalled a study released three years ago that showed that overwhelmingly more plays by men than women are produced in New York, and that the same play with a distinctly female author's name attached to it is treated differently than when it's submitted with a male writer's name attached.

It happens in fiction too. When Nora Roberts started writing futuristic thrillers, she took the moniker J.D. Robb, and of course the Harry Potter books aren't attributed to Joanne Rowling but to J.K.

Interstingly, in Rutherford & Son, the two strongest characters aren't the titular industrialist and his eldest male child, but Rutherford's daughter and daughter-in-law, wonderfully played by Sara Surrey and Allison McLemore.