Kitchen Sink Realism
Author: Dorothy Chansky
Domestic labor has figured largely on American stages.
The genre “kitchen sink realism” both supports and challenges
the idea that the home is naturally women’s sphere.
1920’s – popular plays staged the plight of women seeking escape from the daily domestic grind
1930’s– recognized housework as work!
Awake and Sing (1935)
1950’s – maids gained a complexity previously reserved only for leading ladies.
Member of the Wedding (1950)
1960’s – problems and comforts of domestic labor in homes took center stage.
Raisin in the Sun (1960)
This is comprehensive analysis of kitchen and sink realism. Dorothy Chansky highlights plays that I never heard of – Mine Eyes Have Seen (1918), – Aftermath (1919) – and it took some effort to immerse myself in them. Chansky discusses more than 20 different plays! I did discover 2 female playwrights I would like to read:
Rachel Crothers – one of the most successful dramatists first part of 20th C.
Georgia Douglas Johnson – one of the earliest African-American playwrights. She was a participant in Harlem Renaissance.
If you are interested in drama and the societal impact these plays have had in the 20th C…this book is for you!