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Scholarship about Fornés

Fefu and Her Friends by María Irene Fornés, produced by American Place Theatre, directed by Fornés in 1978.
Fefu (Rebecca Schull) threatens Julia (Margaret Harrington).

Photo: Martha Holmes, reproduced courtesy of Billy Rose Theatre Collection, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.


NYU Fales Library – María Irene Fornés papers here.

University of Miami – Cuban Theater Digital Archive – María Irene Fornés here.


Cummings, Scott T. Maria Irene Fornes. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2013.

García-Romero, Anne. The Fornes Frame: Contemporary Latina Playwrights and the Legacy of Maria Irene Fornes.

Tucson : The University of Arizona Press 2016.

Kent, Assunta Bartolomucci. Maria Irene Fornes and Her Critics. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996.

Moroff, Diane. Fornes: Theater in the Present Tense. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996.

Renganathan, Mala. Understanding Maria Irene Fornes’ Theatre. Champaign, Ill: Common Ground, 2010.

Robinson, Marc, ed. The Theatre of Maria Irene Fornes. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

Svich, Caridad, and Maria Delgado, eds. Conducting a Life: Reflections on the Theater of Maria Irene Fornes. New York: Smith and Kraus, 1999.

Articles in Scholarly Journals

Adams, Ricci-Jane. “Magical Feminism: The Paradoxical Pain in Fefu and Her Friends by Maria Irene Fornes and The Eisteddfod by Lally Katz.” Double Dialogues, no. 6, Winter 2005,

Alker, Gwendolyn. “Fornesian Animality: María Irene Fornés’s Challenge to a Politics of Identity.” Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, Vol 35, no. 1, Fall 2020. .

Alker, Gwendolyn. “Teaching Fornes: Preserving Fornesian Techniques in Critical Context.” Theatre Topics, vol. 19, no. 2, 2009, pp. 207–219.

Austin, Gayle, et al. “The ‘Woman’ Playwright Issue.” Performing Arts Journal, vol. 7, no. 3, 1983, pp. 87–102.,

Chen, Mao-qing. “Women as ‘Dasein’: A Philosophical Approach To Maria Irene Fornes’ Fefu and Her Friends.” Studies in Literature and Language, vol. 1, no. 1, 2010, pp. 1–6.,

Cummings, Scott. “Seeing with Clarity: The Visions of Maria Irene Fornes.” Theater, vol. 17, no. 1, Winter 1985, pp. 51–56., doi:10.1215/01610775-17-1-51.

Cummings, Scott T. “Psychic Space: The Interiors of Maria Irene Fornes.” The Journal of American Drama and Theatre, vol. 10, no. 2, Spring 1998, pp. 59–73.,

Currier, Roz. “Maria Irene Fornes Recites / Resites Women’s Desires.” Tessera, vol. 11, Winter 1991, pp. 119–127., doi:10.25071/1923-9408.24943.

Farfan, Penny. “Feminism, Metatheatricality, and Mise-en-scène in Maria Irene Fornes’s Fefu and Her Friends.” Modern Drama, vol. 40, no. 4, Winter 1997, pp. 442–453., doi:10.1353/mdr.1997.0056.

Fornes, Maria Irene, and Bonnie Marranca. “Interview: Maria Irene Fornes.” Performing Arts Journal, vol. 2, no. 3, Winter 1978, pp. 106–111., doi:10.2307/3245375.

Fornés, María Irene, and Robb Creese. “I Write These Messages That Come.” The Drama Review: TDR, vol. 21, no. 4, Dec. 1977, pp. 25–40. Playwrights and Playwriting Issue, doi:10.2307/1145134.

García-Romero, Anne. “Replicating Irene’s Room: Sustaining Fornesian Playwriting in the 21st Century,” Theatre Topics, Volume 31, Number 2, July 2021, pp.87-98.

Gargano, Cara. “The Starfish and the Strange Attractor: Myth, Science, and Theatre as Laboratory in Maria Irene Fornes’ ‘Mud.’” New Theatre Quarterly, vol. 13, no. 51, Aug. 1997, pp. 214–220., doi:10.1017/S0266464X00011222.

Geis, Deborah R. “Wordscapes of the Body: Performative Language as ‘Gestus’ in Maria Irene Fornes’s Plays.” Theatre Journal, vol. 42, no. 3, Oct. 1990, pp. 291–307., doi:10.2307/3208076.

Herrera, Brian Eugenio. “The Dramatist’s Call to Action: The Provocative Prescience of James Baldwin and María Irene Fornés.” Theater, vol. 49, no. 1, 1 Feb. 2019, pp. 78–95., doi:10.1215/01610775-7253795.

Keyssar, Helene. “Drama and the Dialogic Imagination: The Heidi Chronicles and Fefu and Her Friends.” Modern Drama, vol. 34, no. 1, Spring 1991, pp. 88–106., doi:10.1353/mdr.1991.0011.

Koppen, Randi. “Formalism and the Return to the Body: Stein’s and Fornes’s Aesthetic of Significant Form.” New Literary History, vol. 28, no. 4, Autumn 1997, pp. 791–809.,

Manora, Yolanda. “Discourse and Intercourse: Gender, Exile, and Dialogical Subjectivities in Maria Irene Fornes’s Mud.” Women’s Studies, vol. 37, no. 7, 4 Sept. 2008, pp. 845–860., doi:10.1080/00497870802341558.

Marranca, Bonnie. “The Real Life of Maria Irene Fornes.” Performing Arts Journal, vol. 8, no. 1, 1984, pp. 29–34., doi:10.2307/3245402.

Marranca, Bonnie. “The State of Grace: Maria Irene Fornes at Sixty-Two.” Performing Arts Journal, vol. 14, no. 2, May 1992, pp. 24–31., doi:10.2307/3245628.

Marranca, Bonnie. “Thinking About Maria Irene Fornes.” PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art 41, no. 1 (2019): 1-3.

Mayer-García, Eric. “Feeling Brown Like You: Creación Colectiva and Latinx Affect in Fornés’s Cap-a-Pie.” Chiricú Journal: Latina/o Literatures, Arts, and Cultures, vol. 3, no. 1, Fall 2018, pp. 23–48., doi:10.2979/chiricu.3.1.04.

Murray, Piper. “‘They Are Well Together. Women Are Not’: Productive Ambivalence and Female Hom(m)osociality in Fefu and Her Friends.” Modern Drama, vol. 44, no. 4, Winter 2001, pp. 398–415., doi:10.1353/mdr.2001.0047.

Patraka, Vivian M. “Binary Terror and Feminist Performance: Reading Both Ways.” Discourse, vol. 14, no. 2, Spring 1992, pp. 163–185. Happening, Body, Spectacle, Virtual Reality,

Romero, Elaine, and Anne García-Romero. 2017. “Expanding the Chair: A Conversation on Fornés’s Pedagogy in Action”. Theatre Topics. 27 (1): 83-90.

Ruhl, Sarah. “Six Small Thoughts on Fornes, the Problem of Intention, and Willfulness.” Theatre Topics, vol. 11, no. 2, Sept. 2001, pp. 187–204., doi:10.1353/tt.2001.0016.

Shanahan, Ann M. “Playing House: Staging Experiments About Women in Domestic Space.” Theatre Topics, vol. 23, no. 2, Sept. 2013, pp. 129–144., doi:10.1353/tt.2013.0028.

Svich, Caridad. “A Dream of Making.” Theatre Journal, vol. 62, no. 4, Dec. 2010, pp. 511–514. Contemporary Women Playwrights,

Svich, Caridad. “The Legacy of Maria Irene Fornes: A Collection of Impressions and Exercises.” PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art, vol. 31, no. 3, Sept. 2009, pp. 1–32., [With contributions from Brooke Berman, Migdalia Cruz, Anne García-Romero, Julie Hébert, Jennifer Maisel, Oliver Mayer, Han Ong, Lisa Schlesinger, Alisa Solomon, and Alisa Troyano.]

Wolf, Stacy. “Re/presenting Gender, Re/presenting Violence : Feminism, Form and the Plays of Maria Irene Fornes.” Theatre Studies, no. 37, 1992, pp. 17–31.

Articles in Periodicals

Alfaro, Luis. “La Maestra Fornés Has Left the Room, But What a Room!” American Theatre, 31 Oct. 2018,

Butler, Isaac. “Fornés and Her Friends.” American Theatre, 23 Mar. 2016,

Chow, Andrew R. “An Avant-Garde Theater Artist Gets Her Due.” The New York Times, 23 Aug. 2018,

Cortiñas, Jorge Ignacio. “’Fefu’ and Her Pleasures.” American Theatre, 8 Jan. 2021,

Cruz, Migdalia. “The Maria Irene Fornés Playlist.” American Theatre, 2 Nov. 2018,

Fornés, Maria Irene. “Creative Danger: Exploring the Woman’s Voice in Drama.” American Theatre, 1 Sept. 1985,

Frame, Allen, and María Irene Fornés. “María Irene Fornés.” BOMB Magazine, 1 Oct. 1984,

Gener, Randy, et al. “SPRING THEATER/VISIONS OF AMERICA; What It Means to Be Both Cuban and American.” The New York Times, 27 Feb. 2000,

Manby, Christine. “Maria Irene Fornes: Havana-born playwright who was a leading light of the Off Broadway avant garde.” The Independent, 2 Dec. 2018,

Marranca, Bonnie. “The Path of ‘Fefu,’ From a Gun Joke to a Feminist Play Sans Plot.” American Theatre, 5 July 2017,

McKinley, Jesse, et al. “THEATER; A Reunion of Playwrights Shaped in One Crucible.” The New York Times, 24 Sept. 2000,

Reagan, Alice. “Maria Irene Fornes, World Builder.” American Theatre, 5 July 2017,

Shewey, Don. “Her Championship Season.” The Advocate, 9 Nov. 1999,

Svich, Caridad, and Diep Tran. “Fefu’s Friends, Old and New.” American Theatre, 4 Dec. 2019,

Svich, Caridad. “Fornés and the Magic in the Room.” American Theatre, 7 Nov. 2018,

Book Chapters

Austin, Gayle. “The Madwoman in the Spotlight: Plays of Maria Irene Fornes.” Making a Spectacle: Feminist Essays on Contemporary Women’s Theatre, edited by Lynda Hart, University of Michigan Press, 1989, pp. 76–85.

Bottoms, Stephen J. “Signals through the Flames: The Afterlife of a Movement.” Playing Underground: A Critical History of the 1960s Off-Off-Broadway Movement, University of Michigan Press, 2004, pp. 344–366,

Claycomb, Ryan. “A Life in the (Meta) Theater: WRITING/REHEARSING/ACTING OUT.” Lives in Play: Autobiography and Biography on the Feminist Stage, University of Michigan Press, 2012, pp. 138–172,

Fliotsos, Anne, and Wendy Vierow. “Fornes, Maria Irene.” American Women Stage Directors of the Twentieth Century, University of Illinois Press, 2008, pp. 179–189.

Garner, Stanton B. “(En)gendering Pain: The Conduct of Life.” Bodied Spaces: Phenomenology and Performance in Contemporary Drama, Cornell University Press, 1994, pp. 189–197.

Gruber, William E. “The Characters of Maria Irene Fornes: Public and Private Identities.” Missing Persons: Essays on Character and Characterization in Modern Drama, University of Georgia Press, 1994, pp. 155–181.

Hernando-Real, Noelia. “My Home, My Battleground: The Deconstruction of the American Family.” Performing Gender Violence: Plays by Contemporary American Women Dramatists, edited by Barbara Ozieblo and Noelia Hernando-Real, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, pp. 39–60,

Lee, Josephine. “Pity and Terror as Public Acts: Reading Feminist Politics in the Plays of Maria Irene Fornes.” Staging Resistance: Essays on Political Theater, edited by Jeanne M. Colleran and Jenny S. Spencer, University of Michigan Press, 1998, pp. 166–185.

Lopez, Tiffany Ana. “Beyond the Festival Latino: (Re)Defining Latina Drama for the Mainstage.” Women Playwrights of Diversity: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook, edited by Jane T. Peterson and Suzanne Bennett, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1997, pp. 17–25.

Lopez, Tiffany Ana. “Maria Irene Fornes, The Conduct of Life.” Reading U.S. Latina Writers: Remapping American Literature, edited by Alvina E. Quintana, Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, pp. 77–89,

Milne, Ira M, Edward Albee, Harold Pinter, Henrik Ibsen, Lynn Nottage, María I. Fornés, Max Frisch, Bryony Lavery, Euripides, Stephen Sondheim, James Lapine, Eugene Ionesco, Caryl Churchill, and Pam Gems. Drama for Students: Presenting Analysis, Context and Criticism on Commonly Studied Dramas. Detroit, Mich: Gale, 2008.

Muñoz, José Esteban. “Brown Worldings: José Rodríguez-Soltero, Tania Bruguera, and María Irene Fornés.” The Sense of Brown, edited by Joshua Chambers-Letson and Tavia Nyong’o, Duke University Press, 2020, pp. 118–127,

O’Malley, Lurana Donnels. “Pressing Clothes/Snapping Beans/Reading Books: Maria Irene Fornes’s Women’s Work.” Studies in American Drama, 1945-Present, by Philip C. Kolin, vol. 4, Pennsylvania State University, 1989, pp. 103–117.

Schuler, Catherine A. “Gender Perspective and Violence in the Plays of Maria Irene Fornes and Sam Shepard.” Modern American Drama: The Female Canon, edited by June Schlueter, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1990.

Silverman Zinman, Toby. “Hen in a Foxhouse : The Absurdist Plays of Maria Irene Fornes.” Around the Absurd: Essays on Modern and Postmodern Drama, edited by Enoch Brater and Ruby Cohn, University of Michigan Press, 1990.

Theses and Dissertations

DeSoto, Rachel. “An Examination of Playwright Maria Irene Fornes Through the Practical Application of Directing Her Play: Mud.” D-Scholarship@Pitt, University of Pittsburgh, 2010,

Jennings, Brooke Lauren. “Directing Fefu and Her Friends.” eScholarship, University of California Santa Cruz, 2013,

Jordan, Kelda Lynn. “Perspectives on Women and Aggression Illustrated through Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls, Maria Irene Fornes’s Fefu and Her Friends, and Sheila Callaghan’s That Pretty, Pretty, or; The Rape Play.” Sacramento State ScholarWorks, California State University, Sacramento, 2010,

Li, Jing. “Self in Community: Twentieth-Century American Drama by Women.” HKBU Institutional Repository Open Access Theses and Dissertations, Hong Kong Baptist University, 2016,

O’Rourke, Joyce Williams. “New Female Playwrights in the American Theatre, 1973-1983: A Critical Analysis of Thought in Selected Plays.” LSU Historical Dissertations and Theses, Louisiana State University, 1988,

Onstad, Andréa J. “Conducting a Pedagogy: The Influence of Maria Irene Fornes’s Teaching and the Padua Hills Playwright Workshop and Festival on Three Contemporary Women Playwrights.” MOspace Institutional Repository, 2009,

Stith, Nathaniel Lawrence. “Delimiting Diversity in Contemporary American Theatre: A Study of the Use of Identity-Based Categories in Introduction to Theatre Textbooks.” CU Scholar, University of Colorado Boulder, 2014,

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