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Black Women Playwrights
Actresses, Broadway Performers, Novelist/Writers and Poets all come together to contribute to the growing field/knowledge of Black Women Playwriting! Here you can find many different Black Women Playwrights who explore many topics in the growing field.
Adrienne Kennedy Reader is a compilation of Kennedy's most influential plays. Remember that this is an introduction to her work! Adrienne Kennedy has been a force in American theatre since the early 1960s, influencing generations of playwrights with her hauntingly fragmentary lyrical dramas. Exploring the violence racism against Black people, Kennedy’s plays express poetic alienation, transcending the particulars of character and plot through ritualistic repetition and radical structural experimentation. The Adrienne Kennedy Reader is the first comprehensive collection of works by one of our greatest living playwrights.
The Alice Childress papers document Alice Childress's career as a writer and actress, and her activities in the theatre for five decades in New York City. The Personal Papers series includes correspondence, an oral history conducted by Ann Shockley, Childress's FBI file, diaries, calendars, interviews, educational materials, family letters, files for her two husbands, and biographical information about Childress. Significant correspondents include writers Kay Bourne, Harold (Hal) Courlander and Susan Koppleman.
Eulalie Spence was born in Nevis, West Indies on June 11, 1884. She and her family moved to New York in 1902. Ms. Spence was among the pioneer playwrights during the Harlem Renaissance and wrote fourteen plays, five of which were published. She wrote only one three act play, "The Whipping," which was optioned by Paramount Studios, but never made into a film. Several of Spence's plays won awards. The Eulalie Spence collection consists of correspondence, playbills, scripts, photographs, cassettes, agreements and newspaper clippings.
The founder of the Blackgirl Ensemble Theatre in New York City and a faculty member of the Harlem School of the Arts, J. E. Franklin has earned acclaim for her uncompromising depictions of contemporary African American life. Her plays and other writings, which examine themes of identity, family relationships, and oppression, convey both the dreams and the harsh realities that shape the experience of black Americans in the decades after the Civil Rights Movement.
Born in 1942, raised in Jersey City, and educated at Skidmore and the Sorbonne, Kathy Collins was an activist with SNCC during the Civil Rights Movement who went on to carve out a career for herself as a playwright and filmmaker during a time when black women were rarely seen in those roles. She was married twice, and had two children who she raised in Piermont, New York. She died young, at age 46, from breast cancer. Her most known work is the film Losing Ground, followed perhaps by two plays, In the Midnight Hour, and The Brothers. A never-before released collection of short fiction, Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?, will be published by Ecco Press in Fall, 2016.
The Lorraine Hansberry Papers document Lorraine Hansberry's life as an award-winning playwright and activist, and chronicles her activities during the Civil Rights Movement. Virtually all of Hansberry's writings, autobiographical materials, journals, diaries, personal and professional correspondence are included here, as well as related materials generated by her late husband, Robert Nemiroff, and his third wife, Jewell Gresham-Nemiroff, as the executors of Hansberry's state. Significant correspondents include Daisy Bates, Louis Burnham, Julian Mayfield, Robert Nemiroff, and William Worthy.
Writer, teacher, and composer. Marita Bonner was educated at Radcliffe College (A.B. 1922); she published plays, essays, and short fiction in The Crisis and Opportunity including two prize-winning essays: "On Being Young-A Woman-and Colored" (1925) and "Drab Rambles" (1927); also one-act modernist plays "The Purple Flower" (1928) and "Exit, an Illusion" (1929). She won the Wanamaker music prize for Negro Music in 1927. She taught school from 1922 to 1931, and again 1944-45, 1950-63. The collection consists of biographical data, family photographs, correspondence, published and unpublished writings, and articles about Marita Bonner.
A prizewinning play, The Bog Guide (1925), helped establish Miller in the black cultural scene, and she became the most widely published woman playwright of the Harlem Renaissance. She openly addressed racial issues in plays such as Scratches (1929), which commented on colour and class bias within the black community; Stragglers in the Dust (1930), about African-Americans in the military; and Nails and Thorns (1933), which dramatized lynching. She also wrote many historical plays, four of which (including Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth) were anthologized in Negro History in Thirteen Plays (1935).
Ntozake Shange was born Paulette Williams into an upper middle-class African-American family. Her father was an Air Force surgeon and her mother a psychiatric social worker. Cultural icons like Dizzie Gillepsie, Miles Davis and W.E.B. DuBois were regular guests in the Williams home. Shange attended Barnard College and UCLA, earning both a bachelors and master degree in American Studies. Shange’s college years were difficult, however, and frustrated and hurt after separating from her first husband, she attempted suicide several times before focusing her rage against the limitations society imposes on black women.
Ms. Carroll founded the Urban Arts Corp supporting black and Hispanic theatres and performers. Vinnette Carroll, an Emmy award-winning director, actress and playwright who specialized in productions by black writers and composers, died Tuesday in Fort Lauderhill, Fla., of complications from diabetes and heart disease. She was 80. A musical written by Carroll, "Your Arms Too Short To Box With God," appeared on Broadway several times, including a 1982 production starring Patti LaBelle. In 1972, Carroll was the first black woman to direct on Broadway -- a musical called "Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope" at the Playhouse Theatre. Carroll also was the first black woman to bring gospel music to Broadway -- a 1969 adaptation of Langston Hughes' poetry that became "Trumpets of the Lord." She won an Emmy in 1964 for conception/supervision in a television dramatization of selections by black poets called "Beyond the Blues."
For more information and resources on Alice Childress writing, please see the click on the link entitled Alice Childress papers, to your left. The New York Public Library has compiled a comprehensive list of her publications.
For more information and resources on Eulalie Spence writing, please click on the link entitled Eulalie Spence papers, to your left. The New York Public Library has compiled a comprehensive list of her publications.
The Purple Flower by Marita Bonner, is a one-act play typically considered to be Bonner's masterpiece. Not set in any specific place or time, it is a metaphor for racial issues in the U.S. Bonner was born on June 16, 1899, in Boston, Massachusetts.