THE STORIES: GUM. In this violent fairy tale, two cloistered sisters discover new appetites. GUM takes place in a fictional fundamentalist country, inspired by a true scandal in which young Egyptian women were rumored to have had sex with boys in cars. The explanation? Tainted gum, part of a foreign plot to undermine the virtue of traditional girls. Too outrageous to be real, too terrifying to be anything else, GUM depicts the glee and the horror of sexual awakening in a fiercely restrictive culture. Explicit sexual content. (2 men, 3 women.) THE MOTHER OF MODERN CENSORSHIP. An office comedy behind veils, THE MOTHER OF MODERN CENSORSHIP tells the story of a power grab in a world where purity is the ticket to success. The setting is the Music Censorship Headquarters of a fictional fundamentalist country. In the face of ever-shifting rules and restrictions, the chief music censor and her loyal assistant must prove they are worthy to screen out the smut. (1 man, 3 women.)
“Karen Hartman’s duo of plays about women in restrictive Islamic societies provides an intriguing exploration into a milieu rarely seen on American stages. The first, THE MOTHER OF MODERN CENSORSHIP is a small, clever political comedy in the vein of Vaclav Havel’s earlier plays. The second, longer and richer GUM, is a tragedy with sexual politics and poetry in equal measure. These are intelligent, sophisticated works, and they clearly establish Hartman as a playwright to watch.” —Variety. “Karen Hartman’s play GUM is both hilarious and disturbing. It, and its companion, THE MOTHER OF MODERN CENSORSHIP, are superb satires and also compassionate dramatic visions. Karen Hartman is fulfilling her extraordinary early promise.” —Harold Bloom. “A beguiling, sensual, witty, impassioned, deeply moving and brightly burnished gem.” —San Francisco Examiner. “A sexy, sharp one-act…laced with a lightness that pokes as much fun at Western commercialization as it does at Middle Eastern orthodoxy.” —The New Yorker. “Transcends its political agenda to create a lyrical fable about sex, love, danger and virtue.” —NY Newsday.