What I Learned in Paris by Pearl Cleage Image

Women Write Worlds: Monologues and Two-Person Scenes By Women, For Women (Women’s History Month)

March is Women’s History Month. We are celebrating the work of women playwrights who premiered their work at the Alliance Theatre. 

No position in theater is as coveted as that of the playwright. We often judge playwrights on how truthfully their work reflects society, but playwrights do more that reflect our world. They write new worlds into being. 

Playwrights can articulate a vision of the world that centers experiences that might have been overlooked, undervalued, invisible, and/or silent. 

At the turn of the last century, the first professional woman playwright in the United States, Martha Morton, was denied access to the national association for playwrights because she was a woman. In 1907, she and a group of other women formed the Society of Dramatic Authors that later merged with the all-male association to become the forerunner organization to the Dramatist Guild of America. 

While the situation today isn’t as restrictive as it was over a hundred years ago, the glass ceiling for women playwrights is palpable. 

The Count 2.0, a study published by the Dramatist Guild, found that 29% of plays produced on Off-Broadway and non-profit regional stages in the US were written by women (71% were by men) during the 2016-2017. This was an increase of 8.5% from earlier in the decade. While the number of women playwrights of color has increased over the years, only 6% of productions were written by women of color (WOC). 

Compared to the field, the Alliance Theatre’s strides toward gender parity have been larger. Over the past 10 years, 43% of all plays were written by women, 19% by WOC; 53% of plays that premiered at the Alliance were written by women, 21% by WOC.* Critical to this development is the Kendeda M.F.A Playwriting Competition, a one-of-a-kind national competition established by Artistic Director Susan Booth that transitions student playwrights to the world of professional theatre by providing winning playwrights a full production at the regional level. 

The work of equity is not done. We need programs that foster an inclusive and intersectional group of women playwrights, including trans women, whose voices have continued to be left out. We know that when playwrights embody, and speak from, a diverse range of experience that defy one notion of womanhood the whole is strengthened. We celebrate the women playwrights that have forged the way forward for the next generation of brilliant voices.


A Resource Guide of Monologues and Two-Person Scenes 

Anyone who has ever witnessed a play that speaks to their own lived experience knows the giddy joy and emotion that comes from a piece of writing that “fits'', especially when that experience is not part of the mainstream. 

I found that giddy joy recently when reading Meg Miroshnik’s Fairytale for Russian Girls, which premiered at the Alliance Theatre in the 2011-2012 season. As a woman from an immigrant family from Belarus, a post-Soviet territory, the cross-cultural struggle of these young women made me feel seen and their words/worlds could have been my own.

Finding a good “fit” is also critical for the development of the next generation of women artists and creatives. 

Four Alliance Theatre interns from Spelman and Oglethorpe -- Chloe Jackson, Raiyon Hunter, Lauren Dixon, and Jordan Karem -- compiled a resource guide of monologues and two-person scenes, written by women, for women. The resource brings to life some of the ways the Alliance’s repertoire has expanded to fit a diverse range of experiences that center the stories of women. They describe it “work...that pours into the women artists of tomorrow.”  

Enjoy tender and juicy morsels of writing from playwrights Janece Shaffer, Madhuri Shekar, Meg Miroshinki, Terry Burrell, Pearl Cleage, Mary Lynn Owen, Alix Sobler, Julia Bownell, and Eleanor Burgess.


*This count does not include A Christmas Carol, variety or improv shows with no authors, or youth and family shows. Gender/race/ethnicity is based on self-reporting. 


New Plays By Women Playwrights @ The Alliance (2010-2020)



Play Title


Season It Premiered

The Nacirema Society Requests the Honor of Your Presence at the Celebration of their First One Hundred Years

Pearl Cleage


The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls

Meg Miroshnik



Janece Shaffer


Holiday with the Chalks

Mary Brienza, Kathryn Markey, Leenya Rideout


What I Learned in Paris

Pearl Cleage


In Love and Warcraft

Madhuri Shekar


The Geller Girls

Janece Shaffer


The Tall Girls

Meg Miroshnik


The C.A. Lyons Project

Tsehaye Gesalyn Hébert


Tuck Everlasting

Claudia Shear*


Start Down

Eleanor Burgess



Janece Shaffer



Alix Sobler


Hospice & Pointing at the Moon

Pearl Cleage


Angry, Raucous, and Shamelessly Gorgeous

Pearl Cleage


Approval Junkie

Faith Salie



Mary Lynn Owen


53% Of

Steph Del Rosso


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