Saints and the Sex Farce: Gertrude Stein Plays on Avery Hopwood’s “The Demi-Virgin”

By Linda Voris.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Understanding Gertrude Stein’s experimental play, Saints And Singing (1922) as a response to Avery Hopwood’s popular sex farces offers critical insight into her experimental method during a prolific period of her playwriting. Hopwood’s sex farces may have reminded Stein of her own romantic melodrama when her first love affair with a woman resulted in the entanglements of a love triangle. Now a mature writer, happily “wedded,” Stein transforms melodramatic themes in her plays into formal questions about the pacing and timing of emotion in theater. I argue that the saints plays Stein wrote in the early 20s constitute an important shift in her experimental playwriting from a relatively static scenic mode of “landscape writing” to a model of dynamic flux.

Keywords: Gertrude Stein, Avery Hopwood, Plays, Experimental Theater, Broadway Sex Farce, Landscape Plays, Lesbian Love Triangle, Formalist Innovation, Perceptual Experience

The International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.215-224. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 559.953KB).

Linda Voris

Assistant Professor, American University, Department of Literature, American University, Washington, D.C., USA

Linda Voris is an assistant professor in the Department of Literature at American University, Washington, D.C. She has published on Gertrude Stein in the journal Modernism/modernity, and on the contemporary poet, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge in American Women Poets in the 21st Century. Her book manuscript, The Force of Landscape: Gertrude Stein’s Writing in the Early Twenties, is presently under review.


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