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All That JazzThe Life and Times of the Musical Chicago$
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Ethan Mordden

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190651794

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190651794.001.0001

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The Play

The Play

“Like Hell You’re Through!”

(p.39) 3 The Play
All That Jazz

Ethan Mordden

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the life and career of Chicago’s playwright, Maurine Watkins. Against the backdrop of the era at the time of Chicago’s writing, her profile suggests a breakaway personality. She left her home and family to try for a writing career, competing with men as a reporter on a fast-and-furious big-city newspaper and generally going after what she wanted with a resolve unusual in those steeped in small-scale township values and a religious upbringing. Yet Watkins was not a flapper. In fact, her life completely upends the twenties stereotype of the insurgent maiden slicing away at received notions of womanhood. Watkins’ hair was bobbed and she had her own way of doing things, no matter what men told her. But she compacted with no new gods and made no rumpus in the temples. Here was a true individual: even her nonconformism was nonconformist.

Keywords:   Maurine Watkins, Watkins’ career, religion, twenties stereotype, Chicago, Hollywood, plays

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