Barbara Garson
Barbara Garson is an American playwright
A playwright, also called a dramatist, is a person who writes plays.The term is not a variant spelling of "playwrite", but something quite distinct: the word wright is an archaic English term for a craftsman or builder...

, author
An author is broadly defined as "the person who originates or gives existence to anything" and that authorship determines responsibility for what is created. Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work.-Legal significance:...

 and social activist.

Garson is best known for the play MacBird
MacBird! was a 1967 satire by Barbara Garson that superimposed the transferral of power following the Kennedy assassination onto the plot of Shakespeare's Macbeth....

, a notorious 1966 counterculture
Counterculture is a sociological term used to describe the values and norms of behavior of a cultural group, or subculture, that run counter to those of the social mainstream of the day, the cultural equivalent of political opposition. Counterculture can also be described as a group whose behavior...

Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance. The term comes from a Greek word meaning "action" , which is derived from "to do","to act" . The enactment of drama in theatre, performed by actors on a stage before an audience, presupposes collaborative modes of production and a...

/political parody
A parody , in current usage, is an imitative work created to mock, comment on, or trivialise an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of humorous, satiric or ironic imitation...

 of Macbeth
The Tragedy of Macbeth is a play by William Shakespeare about a regicide and its aftermath. It is Shakespeare's shortest tragedy and is believed to have been written sometime between 1603 and 1607...

that sold over half a million copies as a book and had over 90 productions world wide. The play was originally intended for an anti-war
An anti-war movement is a social movement, usually in opposition to a particular nation's decision to start or carry on an armed conflict, unconditional of a maybe-existing just cause. The term can also refer to pacifism, which is the opposition to all use of military force during conflicts. Many...

A teach-in is similar to a general educational forum on any complicated issue, usually an issue involving current political affairs. The main difference between a teach-in and a seminar is the refusal to limit the discussion to a specific frame of time or an academic scope of the topic. Teach-ins...

 at the University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley , is a teaching and research university established in 1868 and located in Berkeley, California, USA...

. The first published edition was printed on an offset press that Garson had restored the year before in order to print The Free Speech Movement Newsletter which she edited. She was one of 800 arrested with Mario Savio
Mario Savio
""...But we're a bunch of raw materials that don't mean to be - have any process upon us. Don't mean to be made into any product! Don't mean - Don't mean to end up being bought by some clients of the University, be they the government, be they industry, be they organized labor, be they anyone!...

 during these early student protests of the 1960s. Garson's self-published edition of MacBird had sold over 200,000 copies by 1967 when the play opened in New York in a production starring Stacey Keach, Bill Devane
William Devane
William Joseph Devane is an American film, television and theater actor.-Life and career:Devane was born in Albany, New York in 1937 or 1939 , the son of Joseph Devane, who was Franklin D. Roosevelt's chauffeur when he was Governor of New York...

, Cleavon Little
Cleavon Little
Cleavon Jake Little was an American film and theatre actor.Little was widely known for his lead role as Sheriff Bart in the 1974 Mel Brooks comedy Blazing Saddles. He also was the irreverent Dr...

, and Rue McClanahan
Rue McClanahan
Rue McClanahan was an American actress, best known for her roles on television as Vivian Harmon on Maude, Fran Crowley on Mama's Family, and Blanche Devereaux on The Golden Girls, for which she won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in 1987.-Early life:McClanahan was born Eddie Rue...

. While these then unknown actors went on to become fixtures in American theater, movies and television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

, the author disappeared from public view at the height of fame.

In 1968 Garson had a child, and in 1969 she went to work at The Shelter Half
The Shelter Half
The Shelter Half was a coffeehouse in Tacoma, Washington, from 1968 to 1974. Like its namesake, a Shelter-half is a simple tent to provide shelter, the Shelter Half's purpose was to provide a place for GIs at Fort Lewis military base in Washington State to resist the war in Vietnam...

, an anti-war GI coffee house near Fort Lewis
Fort Lewis
Joint Base Lewis-McChord is a United States military facility located south-southwest of Tacoma, Washington. The facility is under the jurisdiction of the United States Army Joint Base Garrison, Joint Base Lewis-McChord....

 Army base in Tacoma, Washington
Tacoma, Washington
Tacoma is a mid-sized urban port city and the county seat of Pierce County, Washington, United States. The city is on Washington's Puget Sound, southwest of Seattle, northeast of the state capital, Olympia, and northwest of Mount Rainier National Park. The population was 198,397, according to...

. Her only known publications from the coffee house period were articles in a Seattle anarchist newsletter and contributions to FTA
Free The Army tour
The FTA Tour , a play on the troop expression "Fuck The Army", which in turn was a play on the army slogan "Fun, Travel and Adventure") was an anti-Vietnam War road show designed as a response to Bob Hope's USO tour....

, the Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda is an American actress, writer, political activist, former fashion model, and fitness guru. She rose to fame in the 1960s with films such as Barbarella and Cat Ballou. She has won two Academy Awards and received several other movie awards and nominations during more than 50 years as an...

 and Donald Sutherland
Donald Sutherland
Donald McNichol Sutherland, OC is a Canadian actor with a film career spanning nearly 50 years. Some of Sutherland's more notable movie roles included offbeat warriors in such war movies as The Dirty Dozen, , MASH , and Kelly's Heroes , as well as in such popular films as Klute, Invasion of the...

 anti-war show for soldiers that toured G.I. venues in the U.S. and abroad. Garson is said to have written skits performed at the coffee house during her tenure there.

Garson moved to Manhattan
Manhattan is the oldest and the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City. Located primarily on the island of Manhattan at the mouth of the Hudson River, the boundaries of the borough are identical to those of New York County, an original county of the state of New York...

 in the early 1970s and began publishing short, humorous essays and theater reviews primarily for The Village Voice
The Village Voice
The Village Voice is a free weekly newspaper and news and features website in New York City that features investigative articles, analysis of current affairs and culture, arts and music coverage, and events listings for New York City...

. Her next full length play Going Co-op, 1972, was a comedy about residents of an Upper West Side
Upper West Side
The Upper West Side is a neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan, New York City, that lies between Central Park and the Hudson River and between West 59th Street and West 125th Street...

 Manhattan apartment house going co-op and a floundering left wing political collective that comes home to help organize the tenants who cannot afford to change from renters to owners. It was written with Fred Gardner. Gardner is credited with founding the first of the Vietnam era GI Coffee Houses.

Garson's children's play The Dinosaur Door, set on a class trip to the Natural History Museum, was awarded an OBIE
Obie Award
The Obie Awards or Off-Broadway Theater Awards are annual awards given by The Village Voice newspaper to theatre artists and groups in New York City...

 for playwriting in 1977.

A full-length play, The Department (1983), written for and performed by the organizing group Women Office Workers (WOW), is set in a bank's back office that is about to be automated. The Department, though a light farce, sets out many of the problems that Garson expanded on in her 1989 book The Electronic Sweatshop: How Computers are Transforming the Office of the Future into the Factory of the Past.

In addition to plays, Garson is the author of three non-fiction books:
  • All the Livelong Day: The Meaning and Demeaning of Routine Work, Doubleday & Co., N.Y., 1975; Penguin, N.Y., 1977,; Expanded edition, Penguin, 1994.
  • The Electronic Sweatshop: How Computers Are Transforming the Office of the Future into the Factory of the Past, Simon & Schuster, N.Y., 1988; Penguin, N.Y., 1989.
  • Money Makes the World Go Around: One Investor Tracks Her Cash Through the Global Economy, Viking, N.Y., 2001, Penguin, N.Y., 2002.

All three books explain complex capitalist
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

 phenomena — Taylorism
Scientific management
Scientific management, also called Taylorism, was a theory of management that analyzed and synthesized workflows. Its main objective was improving economic efficiency, especially labor productivity. It was one of the earliest attempts to apply science to the engineering of processes and to management...

 in the first two, global finance in the third — through dramatic anecdotes and interviews. They each describe a historical turning point through the voices of a range of people who may (or may not) themselves, understand the changes happening in their own lives.

MacBird is remembered as an attack on then U.S. President Lyndon Johnson. In fact, it presented Johnson's predecessor, John Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

, and his would-be successor Robert Kennedy
Robert F. Kennedy
Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy , also referred to by his initials RFK, was an American politician, a Democratic senator from New York, and a noted civil rights activist. An icon of modern American liberalism and member of the Kennedy family, he was a younger brother of President John F...

 as equally unacceptable but more dangerously alluring. Garson wanted her fellow 1960s activists to step away from the Democratic Party
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 and create their own institutions including a third party. To that end, she could sometimes be seen outside of California theaters where MacBird was playing, gathering signatures to put the Peace and Freedom Party on the ballot.

In Money Makes the World Go Around, Garson explained the global economy by depositing her book advance in a one branch small town bank, then following it around the world. At one point, her money was invested in Suez, the French
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 company that owned Johannesburg
Johannesburg also known as Jozi, Jo'burg or Egoli, is the largest city in South Africa, by population. Johannesburg is the provincial capital of Gauteng, the wealthiest province in South Africa, having the largest economy of any metropolitan region in Sub-Saharan Africa...

's water system. When protesters were arrested for opposing price increases and water shut offs, Garson organized a "shareholders" demonstration on their behalf in front of the South African consulate.

Garson insists that activism is essential to her writing. But her plays and non-fiction feature layered characters and plot twists that are often irrelevant or even inimical to liberal
Liberalism in the United States
Liberalism in the United States is a broad political philosophy centered on the unalienable rights of the individual. The fundamental liberal ideals of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion for all belief systems, and the separation of church and state, right to due process...

 and socialist tenets. Indeed, Money Makes the World Go Around was largely ignored by the anti-globalization
Criticism of globalization is skepticism of the claimed benefits of the globalization of capitalism. Many of these views are held by the anti-globalization movement however other groups also are critical of the policies of globalization....

 movement within which Garson was active, while a Wall Street Journal review said "Ms. Garson recounts her travels with a disarmingly balanced combination of amazement and social concern" and Business Week said "...her voice is so persistently good-natured and her intelligence so obvious that by the end of this curious capitalist's Baedeker
Verlag Karl Baedeker is a Germany-based publisher and pioneer in the business of worldwide travel guides. The guides, often referred as simply "Baedekers" , contain important introductions, descriptions of buildings, of museum collections, etc., written by the best specialists, and...

 you can't help but trust her gentle judgments."

Garson is the author of over 100 articles in publications including Harper's, The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

, McCalls, Newsweek
Newsweek is an American weekly news magazine published in New York City. It is distributed throughout the United States and internationally. It is the second-largest news weekly magazine in the U.S., having trailed Time in circulation and advertising revenue for most of its existence...

, The Village Voice
The Village Voice
The Village Voice is a free weekly newspaper and news and features website in New York City that features investigative articles, analysis of current affairs and culture, arts and music coverage, and events listings for New York City...

, Ms., The Washington Post
The Washington Post
The Washington Post is Washington, D.C.'s largest newspaper and its oldest still-existing paper, founded in 1877. Located in the capital of the United States, The Post has a particular emphasis on national politics. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia editions are printed for daily circulation...

, The Los Angeles Times, Newsday
Newsday is a daily American newspaper that primarily serves Nassau and Suffolk counties and the New York City borough of Queens on Long Island, although it is sold throughout the New York metropolitan area...

, Modern Maturity, Mother Jones
Mother Jones (magazine)
Mother Jones is an American independent news organization, featuring investigative and breaking news reporting on politics, the environment, human rights, and culture. Mother Jones has been nominated for 23 National Magazine Awards and has won six times, including for General Excellence in 2001,...

, The Nation
The Nation
The Nation is the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the United States. The periodical, devoted to politics and culture, is self-described as "the flagship of the left." Founded on July 6, 1865, It is published by The Nation Company, L.P., at 33 Irving Place, New York City.The Nation...

, and Znet.

She was awarded an OBIE for The Dinosaur Door and a Special Commission from the New York State Council on the Arts, for the Creation of Plays for Younger audiences. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship
Guggenheim Fellowship
Guggenheim Fellowships are American grants that have been awarded annually since 1925 by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to those "who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts." Each year, the foundation makes...

, a National Endowment for the Arts
National Endowment for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts is an independent agency of the United States federal government that offers support and funding for projects exhibiting artistic excellence. It was created by an act of the U.S. Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. Its current...

 Fellowship, a Louis M. Rabinowitz Foundation Grant, the New York Public Library
New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is the largest public library in North America and is one of the United States' most significant research libraries...

 Books to Remember award and Library Journal
Library Journal
Library Journal is a trade publication for librarians. It was founded in 1876 by Melvil Dewey . It reports news about the library world, emphasizing public libraries, and offers feature articles about aspects of professional practice...

's Best Business Books of 1989 award, and a MacArthur Foundation
MacArthur Foundation
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the United States. Based in Chicago but supporting non-profit organizations that work in 60 countries, MacArthur has awarded more than US$4 billion since its inception in 1978...

 Grant for reading and writing.

In 1992, Garson was the running mate for J. Quinn Brisben
J. Quinn Brisben
John Quinn Brisben was the Socialist Party USA candidate for President of the United States in the 1992 U.S. presidential election. His running mate was initially Bill Edwards, but after Edwards died during the campaign he was replaced by Barbara Garson.Extremely active in the civil rights...

 on the Socialist Party USA
Socialist Party USA
The Socialist Party USA is a multi-tendency democratic-socialist party in the United States. The party states that it is the rightful continuation and successor to the tradition of the Socialist Party of America, which had lasted from 1901 to 1972.The party is officially committed to left-wing...

 ticket, replacing Bill Edwards, who died during the race. In August 1992, she received a message on her answering machine
Answering machine
The answering machine or message machine, also known as the telephone answering machine in the UK and some Commonwealth countries) and previously known as an ansaphone, ansafone, or telephone answering device is a device for answering telephones and recording callers' messages.Unlike voicemail,...

: "We're sorry to tell you that the Socialist Vice-Presidential candidate, Bill Edwards, has died. We would like your help in writing a press release for the newspapers. And also, would you like to run for Vice President?", which she initially believed to be a joke.
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