Dominating Ladies in a Male Dominant Genre
"Adventurous theater in Astoria"

-- The New York Times

Dominating Ladies in a Male Dominant Genre

Tickets are being sold, postcards are being printed, actors are being cast, and a set is being budgeted. In many ways, we are already in full swing  for The Cottage – our first mainstage show, and we’re excited to see what the hard work of the next 5 weeks will bring to this devilishly funny script.  While we work hard behind the scenes, we’re also looking forward to bringing you some sneak peeks at what we’re up to. This week the uber- playwright, Sandy Rustin, shares with us where her inspiration for writing The Cottage came from. 


British comedies have long been a favorite source of entertainment for me. Whether it be Noel Coward’s Hay Fever or Hugh Grant’s … anything … I love a good laugh amidst upper class English dialect. As an American actress, having the opportunity to play a part in a British comedy is a rarity. You can only do Noises Off so many times (although truth be told, I think I’d be quite content playing in Noises Off forever).  At any rate, as is often the case with performers who also write, I sat down to write a script within a genre I would love to play.

Noël Coward and Gertrude Lawrence in Private Lives

Noël Coward and Gertrude Lawrence in Private Lives

However, when I began to really dig into the style and examine the plays I’d grown to love a little deeper, I realized that most every script was male dominated. The women are often little more than beauties who can banter well. Occasionally there’s a sexy goofball who needs rescuing by an attractive male holding a cigarette. Sometimes a matronly woman long past her prime offers up nuggets of wisdom. But I was hard pressed to find a strong female driven script that fits this bill.

The Cottage is my own personal genre experiment. Can I create a world within the confines of this style, where the ladies rule the roost? Staying true both to the nature of the play and to the reality of 1920s gender roles, is there a way to make a woman (or women) come out on top? What happens when a female perspective takes a crack at this predominately male theatrical pursuit?

So those were the questions that set me forth on the journey of writing The Cottage. I think the result is an undercurrent of a feminist sensibility dressed in 1920s clothing, set in a 19th century cottage on the English countryside.




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