From Tennessee Williams and Carson McCullers to Arthur Kopit and Brian Friel, New York-based literary agent Audrey Wood encouraged and guided the unique talents of playwrights in the Broadway theatre of her day. Audrey Wood and the Playwrights illuminates the gifts and strategies of the tenacious woman at the Liebling-Wood Agency who melded playwrights with producers, directors, and leading actors to leave an indelible mark on the American theatre and film industry during the mid-twentieth century. Wood's story is told here through her interactions with her clients, now household names, whose works she steered through periods of triumph and failure. In an era when women, with the exception of actresses, were rare in the theatre business, she was known as the "go-to" agent for success in the commercial theater. Dubbed a "guardian agent," her quiet determination and burning enthusiasm brought America's finest mid-century playwrights to prominence and altered stage history.
Milly S. Barranger is Distinguished Professor Emerita of Dramatic Art at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA and the author of books about twentieth-century women and modern American theater, including Margaret Webster: A Life in the Theater, Unfriendly Witnesses: Gender, Theater, and Film in the McCarthy Era, and A Gambler's Instinct: The Story of Broadway Producer Cheryl Crawford (a finalist for the Theatre Library Association's 2011 George Freedley Award). She is coeditor of Notable Women in the American Theatre: A Biographical Dictionary and the seventh edition of her introductory textbook, Theatre: A Way of Seeing, appears in 2014. She is former producing director of Playmakers Repertory Company (Chapel Hill), a member of the League of Resident Theatres; Past President of the National Theatre Conference and the American Theatre Association, and Dean Emerita of the College of Fellows of the American Theatre. She received the 2009 Outstanding Teacher Award from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education and a Special Award in 2010 for Outstanding Achievement in the American Theatre from the New England Theatre Conference.
PART I: GENESIS OF AN AGENT 1905-1939
2. Starting Out
3. A Room of Their Own
PART II: THE FEARFUL PATH 1940-1970
4. The Bitch Goddess
5. Dancing on Eggs
6. Personal Monsters
7. Darkness in the Heartland
8. Iron Butterflies
9. Accidental Career
10. Irish Fictions
PART III: ENTRANCES AND EXITS 1971-1986
12. Guardian Angel
Appendix: The Liebling-Wood Agency's Client List of Playwrights, 1938-1958