Jane Chambers (1937-1983)
One of the first playwrights to depict love between women as happy, healthy, and well-adjusted, Jane Chambers (1937-1983) changed the course of American drama with works informed by second-wave feminism and the burgeoning gay rights movement, including A Late Snow (1974), Last Summer and Bluefish Cove (1980), and My Blue Heaven (1981). A prolific writer, Chambers also authored novels, poetry, and essays in addition to penning scripts for film and television. She trained as an actress, at Rollins College and the Pasadena Playhouse, because female students were not admitted to writing classes, enjoying success as an Off-Broadway performer.
In 1964, Chambers moved to Maine where she worked for MWTW-TV as a content producer and on-air personality. During President Johnson’s War on Poverty, Chambers took a position as arts coordinator with Jobs Corp, creating theater with inner-city youths. While earning a bachelor’s degree at Goddard College, Chambers returned to New York, co-founded Women’s Interart Theatre with Margot Lewitin, and met her life partner, talent agent Beth Allen. During rehearsals for Kudzu, Chambers was diagnosed with a brain tumor and died in 1983. Her pioneering spirit is honored by an annual prize given in her name, The Jane Chambers Award for Playwriting, administered by The Women and Theatre Program. Chambers' impact on American drama is also celebrated by a reading series at TOSOS Theatre (The Other Side of Silence).