First published in Geography and Plays (1922), For the Country Entirely. A Play in Letters is one of the early conversation plays (as Jane Bowers calls them) that Stein wrote during the wartime year she lived in Mallorca with Alice Toklas. Stein and Toklas had left Paris in March 1915 because of air raids and coal shortages, expecting a brief stay in neutral Spain but remaining until the following spring. “We are very peaceful,” she wrote on a postcard to Carl Van Vechten in December 1915, “I am making plays quite a number of them. Conversations are easy but backgrounds are difficult but they come and stay.”
Background is one of several key terms for Stein, terms that include land, geography, country, and others that she associates with her plays and theater poetics. These terms name both a technical problem for Stein as a writer (what to do about setting) and, in the Mallorcan plays, a sociopolitical question: how to make space for women (and other non-combatants) to engage with and participate in experiences of war?
The recording is about 20 minutes.listen read the play
Read Dorothy Chang’s remarks about the music and collaborative process (TCR 3.22 (2014)).
See the 2013 live performance of For the Country Entirely at Western Front.
Adam Frank’s essay on For the Country Entirely appears in Primary Stein (Lexington Books, 2014), edited by Janet Boyd and Sharon Kirsch.
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