April 13, 2017 by Aileen Jacobson
Toward the end of “War Paint,” the new Broadway musical about two queens of the cosmetics industry, one Jewish and one not, Elizabeth Arden (the blond, blue-eyed Christian one) asks in a lyric whether they had made women more free or helped “enslave them.”
Helena Rubinstein, the makeup mogul with darker hair and a longer nose, who was born in a Polish shtetl, replies, “Perhaps they will forgive us when they look at what we gave them.” That would be more than just lipsticks and creams to make them more alluring and, maybe, establish a clearer sense of self-worth (or maybe make them doubt their worth if they didn’t embellish their looks). The two also demonstrated how far women could go in business, establishing their own highly successful companies and amassing millions of dollars.
April 4, 2017 by Aileen Jacobson
The theater was packed—there had been long lines outside as invited guests and hopeful members of the public jostled to enter and find seats. Inside, the stage of the August Wilson Theater, which opened in 1925 with a production of George Bernard Shaw’s “Caesar and Cleopatra,” was filled with theater luminaries. It was December 6, 2016, and the 1,200 or so people in attendance were gathered to pay tribute to Edward Albee, who had died two months earlier at the age of 88.
It was a lovely event, filled with anecdotes from colleagues and excerpts from Albee’s plays delivered by well-known actors, and I was happy that a friend had invited me along. It slowly dawned on me, however, that among the dozens of speakers who rotated on and off the stage, there was only one female playwright. That was Emily Mann—and she was introduced not as a playwright but as a director, which was indeed her role in Albee’s life. Everything said on the stage was appropriate for the occasion, including the comments by Terrence McNally, John Guare, Arthur Kopit and Will Eno, all fellow playwrights who, like Albee, have had shows produced on Broadway, the pinnacle of American commercial theater.
But wait, I thought to myself, where are the women?