“I mean, like sort of…you know…umm”
Monochromatic photograph of a white woman with white hair cut into a bob. She wears a black top with a chin-high collar held around her neck with her right hand
Tina Howe photographed by Tom Bloom

It was overhearing a guy mumble this on his cell phone that made me realize it was time for The Dramatist to devote an entire issue to language. How we use it, abuse it, exalt it, explode it, erase it, repeat it, rhyme it, or even invent a new one. Words, after all, are our medium. They brand and define us. So hearing this intelligent looking guy being so inarticulate made me think about the language we give our characters—driving ourselves crazy struggling to be mindful about age, gender, class, religion, race, background, and most important, state of mind.

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Tina Howe
Tina Howe

(born Mabel Davis Howe; November 21, 1937 – August 28, 2023) was an American playwright. In a career that spanned more than four decades, Howe's best-known works include Museum, Painting ChurchesThe Art of Dining, Costal Disturbancesand Pride’s Crossing, among others. Among her many accolades, she won the 1993 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature; 1998 New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best American Play; 2015 PEN/Laura Pels Theater Award, Master American Dramatist; the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Lillys; inducted into the 2017 American Theatre Hall of Fame; and 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Dramatists Guild.