Mon. March 8: International Women’s Day

image courtesy of Alberto H. Fabragas via pixabay.com

Instead of the usual intent of the week, I’m going to tell you about some of the extraordinary women about whom I’ve written for the 365 Women A Year playwrighting project over the last few years.

Imagine if society didn’t just pretend to value women on one day of the year? Imagine if they actually took action that proves they value women, including equal pay for equal work and non-toxic work environments.

Imagine if a woman’s value wasn’t tied to whether or not she CHOSE to have children, and both choices were given support?

Imagine if all the “administrative assistants” (who are mostly women) were given the recognition for the jobs they actually do and given the titles and pay of the do-nothing, useless executives for whom they work?

For many years, working my way up to Broadway, I worked as a temp in offices all around the country. Well over 200 companies over the decades. In all that time, I only met THREE ‘executives’ who actually did any work and weren’t a total waste of space, money, and time. Two of those individuals worked for the same company (and I worked for the pair of them).

Imagine what we could accomplish if the truly talented and those who did the work were given the money and support to do said work, instead of propping up those who don’t?

Now, to celebrate some of the extraordinary women about whom I’ve written:

Kate Warne. She was the first female Pinkerton. She walked into Allan Pinkerton’s office and told him she wanted to be a detective, and that women could get information that men couldn’t. She proved it, and became one of his top and most trusted operatives. She and her fellow Pinkertons often did large, theatrical, undercover operations. Among the cases were the Adams Express Embezzlement case (the case around which “Confidence Confidant” is based), where Kate posed as the wife of a forger to gain the confidence of the wife of an embezzler, and retrieve the money; a case where Kate posed as a medium to help kill a pair of lovers who’d poisoned the spouse of one of the pair, and was planning the murder of the other (I’m writing about that case this year in “A Rare Medium”). Kate was so popular as a medium that her clients were disconsolate when she solved the case and closed up shop. She helped smuggle Lincoln into Washington for his inauguration and thwart an assassination attempt. She helped bring down the Confederate spy Rose O’Neal Greenhow. She trained an entire division of Pinkerton women.

Jeanne de Clisson. In the 14th century, she became the pirate known as “The Lioness of Brittany.” The King of France wrongly accused (and executed) her husband for treason (I think it was her second husband; it might have been her third). At forty, after giving birth to seven children, she sold her land before it could be seized. She bought three ships, painted black with red sails, and became a pirate, only preying on French ships. She later fell in love with an Englishman, and retired to England. Her son, Olivier, became known at “The Butcher” and built the Château de Clisson in Brittany, which still stands today.

Giulia Tofana. A 17th century herbalist, she developed and perfected Aqua Tofana, a poison used to free women from their abusive husbands by turning them into widows. She had a tight circle of apprentices, and they are thought to have poisoned at least 600 people. The formula has never been recovered. Supposedly, Mozart thought he’d been dosed with it. Stories differ as to whether the fanatical Wilrich von Daun actually killed her while she was in sanctuary, or whether she escaped and retired to a convent.

Lavinia Fontana. She was a painter in Renaissance Bologna, one of the first to negotiate commissions like a man would. She was supported and promoted by a cadre of powerful Bolognese society women, several of whom ran their husbands’ businesses. She married a man who took her name and took care of their many children while she worked.

Canaletto’s Sisters. The Venetian painter Caneletto had three sisters: Fiorenza, who married, and whose son became a court painter in Austria and Germany, his work often confused with Canaletto’s; Francesca, and Viena, who never married. Not much is known about them, other than they were smart, lively, and devoted to their talented brother. Canaletto started his career painting stage sets, part of a family renown for theatre stage design.

Isabella Goodwin. She was the first female NYPD detective, and her work was as much about improving women’s lives as fighting crime. Like Kate Warne, she enjoyed theatrical undercover work. She was widowed young. Her husband was a cop, killed in the line of duty, and she went into police work to provide for their children. By all accounts, she was much better at it than her husband. Later in life, she married a younger man, a singer, and her final case involved medical fraud.

Susanna Centlivre. She was one of the most popular 18th century playwrights of her day. She posed as a boy to attend Cambridge; when she was discovered, she joined touring theatres as an actress, and then became a playwright. Her satires were popular, and she was part of a lively group of writers and artists. She married a “yeoman of the mouth” – one of Queen Anne’s favorite cooks, and the stability of that marriage supported her writing.

Who am I writing about this year? More Kate Warne plays, dramatizing some of her other cases. A play about Dawn Powell and Dorothy Parker, two of my favorite writers (who weren’t particularly fond of each other). Marie Correlli, born Mary McKay, a popular Victorian novelist.

Among my earliest heroines were Louisa May Alcott and Harriet Beecher Stowe. They are two of the reasons I became a writer.

Who are the women who inspire you?

Fri. March 8, 2019: International Women’s Day

Friday, March 8, 2019
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold
International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day!

How about we all treat each other with respect and dignity EVERY day?

Yesterday seems long ago and far away.

Hop over to Gratitude and Growth for the latest gardening post.

I wrote in the morning. I did some work at the library. Got out some LOIs. I went to yoga, which was great.

I made a Thai-style chicken noodle soup for lunch, good on a cold day, but I still don’t like coconut milk. I have to research if there’s something I can substitute.

Read, worked on contest entries, worked out plot points on stories.

Finished re-watching the Roger Rees-starring NICHOLAS NICKLEBY. He was such a damn good actor. That show had a huge impact on me when it came to Broadway. I was just starting out then.

Errands in the morning, work at the library. I’ve got to get another month’s worth of Twuffer posts up and out for marketing purposes. Then, I’m meeting a friend for coffee in Falmouth. More errands in the afternoon, then reading and working on contest entries. I need to finish the book I’m reviewing, write and polish the review, so it can go out on Monday.

Most of the weekend will be focused on writing. I need to particularly focus on the monologues and on the straw hat play. Of course, it’s GAMBIT COLONY that wants attention. Because of course it is.

Pretty soon, I have to get down to work with GRAVE REACH. I have to get a draft of that to my editor in a few months.

Not happy that we’re “springing forward.” I always feel like I’m behind the beat for a couple of weeks.

Have a great weekend!

Published in: on March 8, 2019 at 9:55 am  Comments Off on Fri. March 8, 2019: International Women’s Day  
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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold
International Women’s Day

Yup, here we have it, International Women’s Day. I wish I’d been able to put together a project this year like I did the year my friend Avonne and I set the creation atmosphere for MOON TRIBE TALES. I say “set the creation atmosphere” because the actresses who spent months developing material for the piece are equally a part of it. It was a wonderful experience for both those participating and those who attended, and I wish I’d been set up to seek funding for it to be an ongoing project. When I look back at the script, little has changed in the intervening years. If anything, women’s rights and progress are regressing.

Actress Allison Scagliotti, whose work I throughly enjoy in WAREHOUSE 13, has a great piece up here about looking for role models in her industry. It’s difficult to find strong, complex female characters in media right now, although I think there are more of them on television than in film. Too often, they simply behave like men would, but they’re played by women. While to a point, a strong person is a strong person no matter what the gender, since biology influences a lot of how we deal with things, I’d love to see a wider range of representations in film and television.

I think women are making inroads behind the scenes — although probably not enough. You look at writers like Jane Espenson and directors like Kate Woods, and there’s progress.

I think the rise of urban fantasy in literature has created some great female characters. Look at Diana Bishop in A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES — she doesn’t fit any mold but her own and is fascinating and complex. Look at Camille, Delilah, and Menolly in the Otherworld Series — along with most of the female characters Yasmine Galenorn writes. They don’t fall into cliche, they’re certainly not perfect, but they’re strong, intelligent, and interesting. Or the characters like Ann Aguirre’s Corinne Solomon. These women are all very much women, not girls acting the way men might act in this situation, and they are very resourceful and approach the world with unique viewpoints.

To me, that’s part of what a feminist is — a woman who is strong, intelligent, and interesting, and who won’t keep anyone — male, female, Republican or alien — from allowing her to fulfill her potential to its fullest. Can a man be a feminist? Yes, if he’s willing to support the choices of the women around him to be the best and most they can be, even if it’s inconvenient to him personally! 😉

Got out the write up for Confidential Job #1 and that’s off, and got out my column. Got word this morning that they’ve already sent the next assignment. Caught up on commenting on the student work — some of the comments have been helpful, and they are diving back into the material with fresh enthusiasm, which is what I’d hoped.

MA Dept. of Revenue emailed me my quarterly vouchers, the little dears. Considering the NY State Tax Dept. could never be bothered to provide correct paperwork, nor have they ever posted a payment correctly in the years I lived there, and they generally feel they can remove any money they want from anyone because they don’t have to answer to anyone, the MA attitude is quite refreshing.

Responded to student work. They have a deadline today, so there will be a lot of work on which to comment. Also received materials from a partner for the tele-seminar, so I need to go over that. A big stack of errands to run today, but then they will be done, and I don’t have to worry about them later in the week.

Had a good morning’s work on the play — I’m having fun with it. It wants to have more characters than I’m allowed, so some of the actors may have to double. Or, I just have to keep it lean and cut them in the rewrite. I’ve written for a finite amount of characters before — I know I can do it. Want to do some more work on the play before I switch back to everything else that demands attention. Fortunately, the company wants a piece with high verbal dexterity, and those are the kinds of characters I enjoy writing.

Devon

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday, March 8, 2009
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and mild
Spring Forward!
International Women’s Day

Yes, today is International Women’s Day, so celebrate the women in your life!

And I just want to say that I truly resent having to “spring forward” and lose an hour of sleep! I’m cranky for days. At least this year, it happens a few days before my birthday. The year it happened ON my birthday, I took it very personally. 😉

Got some good work done on the Billy Root story yesterday, which I think I will call CRAVE THE HUNT. Double-entendre title, which will make sense once one reads the book!

A not-so-nice neighbor moved yesterday. Glad the person’s gone, but listening to the moans and groans and bumps of moving made me laugh and also distracted me from some of my work. And she couldn’t be bothered to clean up after the movers – partially drained coffee cups and napkins and all kinds of debris were left all up and down the hallway, which is just rude.

I withdrew my name from consideration for a project yesterday. I received a third round of questions – information which was already sent in previous communications, and I was asked for information which I feel is inappropriate to the position for which I applied. I’ve got contracted, paid deadlines coming up – I think this project would interfere. In the week or so of communications, I’ve been asked the same questions over and over again, and it’s obvious that none of the materials I’ve sent were reviewed. It’s hoop jumping, to see who keeps writing back before even looking at the materials, and that’s a waste of my time, which is just as important as the time of the person hiring. We are not a good fit, and if I’m this frustrated in the pre-interview process, we should not work together. I wrote a pleasant withdrawal letter, and I am done. It felt like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. Again, one should always go with one’s gut. I definitely have the skill level for this project, I’ve got a lot of top level credits in that particular area, and I have no doubt that my skills are far beyond those of most who applied – but I can already tell I’d tear out my hair during the course of it. Buh-bye.

Managed to get to the beach and take a long walk through the park beside the beach and the boardwalk. If you’ve ever seen the movie BIG, the parts on the Boardwalk near the water at the beginning and ending of the movie were shot in my town, and that’s where I go to clear my head. The weather was gorgeous, and there were several dozen dogs playing on the grass and down on the beach in the water, having the BEST time after being cooped up for weeks.

I figured out some Billy Root stuff, and worked out some stuff for another project, and enjoy a small taste of spring. So that was good.

I started re-reading POSSESSION, by A.S. Byatt yesterday. Fascinating book, but it helps if you’re well-grounded in English literature. Byatt really pulls something off – dealing with two scholars researching two poets who turn out to have a connection. She writes from several points of view, including letters, journals, and poetry in the styles of several of her characters, in addition to creating a multi-layered plot and complex characters. I never saw the movie, even though I know the person who adapted it into a screenplay (and love his work) because there’s too much going on to trim it back and stuff into a two hour or less movie. I might rent it at some point, because Aaron Eckhert is in it, and I like his work.

I’m also re-reading Madeleine L’Engle’s Crosswick Journals. I have the first and the fourth. I’m re-reading the first, A CIRCLE OF QUIET. Her thoughts on writing and her commitment to a fully-integrated life, rather than boxing off the “writing” part from the rest of her life are fascinating and refreshing. The journal is fascinating not just for the writing aspects, but for the human aspects. What she figures out in her writing process is pretty wonderful, too. I keep my eye out in bookstores and sales for volumes 2 & 3 – I’ll find them someday and enjoy them when I do.

I’m getting better about actually turning off the computer after dinner and having an evening away. It helps with the computer’s problems, and, spending fewer hours on the computer per day means that, when I’m on it, I’m far more focused and productive.

However, before even 10 AM, forces conspired to prevent a productive day. I hope to overcome them.

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on March 8, 2009 at 9:38 am  Comments (2)  
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