Thursday, September 21, 2017

Birth Dates of Notable Kentuckians: September 21, 1947 – Marsha Norman

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From The Kentucky Encyclopedia -
Marsha (Williams) Norman, playwright, daughter of Billie and Bertha Williams, was born on September 21, 1947, in Louisville. She attended Durrett High School in Louisville, where she excelled as a musician, and graduated from Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, in 1969 with a B.A. in philosophy. Since her first marriage in 1969 she has been known professionally by the name of Norman. She received an M.A. in theater at the University of Louisville in 1971. Norman worked with mentally disturbed children from 1969 to 1971 at Central State Hospital in Louisville. She later credited this experience and her own strict religious upbringing with some of the subject matter and emotional context of her plays. Norman taught in the Jefferson County public schools from 1970 to 1972 and at the Brown School for gifted children in 1973. She was project director for the Kentucky Arts Commission from 1972 until 1976, working with children in managing arts programs and classes in film making. She edited the children's supplement of the Louisville Times, the "Jelly Bean Journal," from 1974 until 1979.

By 1976 Norman had turned to full-time playwriting and was associated with Actors Theatre of Louisville. Her first play, the award winning drama, Getting Out, produced in 1977, was published in The Best Plays Of 1977-78 (1980), the first non-New York production to be included in this annual collection. Set in Louisville, the play portrays weak, sensitive Arlene, who in adapting to life outside of prison must fight the temptation to return to what she knows as security -- her pimp. At the same time, Arlene battles her own violent, rebellious inner self, Arlie, played by a second actress. Norman later said that she had based the character of Arlie on a difficult young ward at Central State Hospital.

Most of Norman's plays have been produced first in Louisville, where she refined them for the New York stage. 'night, Mother, produced in 1982, won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for drama. It is the story of two women: a daughter who feels she has failed in marriage, parenthood, and life, and who decides to take control of her life by ending it, and her mother, who after much anguish comes to accept the decision. It was made into a movie in 1986, starring Sissy Spacek and Anne Bancroft.

Norman's works inquire into moral and philosophical questions. She wrote two plays for television, it's the willingness (1978) and I'm Trouble At Fifteen (1980). Norman's other works include the plays Traveler In The Dark (1985) and Sarah And Abraham (1987), and a novel, The Fortune Teller (1987).

Norman was married to Michael Norman from 1969 to 1974 and to Dann Byck in 1978. She married Tim Dykman in 1987; they have a son, Angus.

Selected Sources from UK Libraries:

Norman, Marsha. 'Night, Mother : A Play. 1st Hill and Wang ed. New York: Hill and Wang, 1983. Print. Dramabook.
PS3564.O623 N5 1983, Fine Arts Library 
Norman, Marsha. Third and Oak, the Laundromat : A Play in One Act. New York: Dramatists Play Service, 1980. Print.
PS3564.O623 T4, Fine Arts Library

Norman, Marsha. Getting out. Book Club Ed.]. ed. Garden City, N.Y.: Nelson Doubleday, 1979. Print.
PS3564.O623 G4 1979, Fine Arts Library

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