Three modernist women, H.D. (Hilda Doolittle, 1886-1961), Mina Loy (1882-1966), and Nancy Cunard (1896-1965), came to define the interwar avant-garde through their experimental writing and unconventional pursuits. In Staging Modernist Lives, Sasha Colby dramatizes these women's lives and writing in three new plays that traverse the origins of modernism, Parisian literary circles, two world wars, the Spanish Civil War, and race and gender relations in the first half of the twentieth century. Leveraging each writer's autobiographical materials, the plays explore the work of H.D., Loy, and Cunard as artists, publishers, and activists, their quests for self-definition amid political and historical upheaval, and their development as modernists among mentors, detractors, lovers, and friends including Bryher Ellerman, Ezra Pound, Sigmund Freud, Gertrude Stein, Arthur Cravan, D.H. Lawrence, and Pablo Neruda. Navigating the emerging field of research-creation, Staging Modernist Lives maps the critical terrain for dramatized literary inquiry. Bridging scholarship and creative practice, extant biographical drama and the possibilities of research-theatre, Staging Modernist Lives demonstrates how performance can deliver literary history to new audiences - and how research in turn reinvigorates itself through performance.
Sasha Colby is director of Graduate Liberal Studies and associate professor of English at Simon Fraser University.