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Pam Gems Biography

(1925– ), Dusa, Fish, Stas and Vi, Queen Christina, Piaf

women plays french daughter

British dramatist, born in Hampshire, educated at Manchester University. She was in her forties, and had worked as a gardener and a research assistant at the BBC, when she began to write plays. Her best work has involved the place of women in society—and especially that of the woman of passion and energy in a society hostile to those things—and combines feminist conviction with openness of mind and a sense of moral complexity. It includes Dusa, Fish, Stas and Vi (1976), a serious and sometimes moving comedy about disparate young women sharing a flat in London; Queen Christina (1977), about the great Swedish monarch; Piaf (1978), a tough, unsentimental portrait of the French singer; and a new version of La Dame aux Camelias, Camille (1984). The last three plays were first performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company, as was Gems's study of the French Revolution, The Danton Affair (1986). Other plays include Aunt Mary (1982); Loving Women (1984), about two young women's involvement with the same man; and Deborah's Daughter (1994), about the widow of an oil magnate who, with her daughter, gets caught up in a coup in an unnamed North African country. She has also written for television, and adapted Chekhov's Uncle Vanya (1979) and The Cherry Orchard (1982), Ibsen's A Doll's House (1980), and Lorca's Yerma (1993) for the stage.

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