Monday, February 16, 2015

STANDING OVATIONS: AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN PLAYWRIGHTS



Because we are celebrating Black History Month, let’s look at some talented African American female authors whose plays are on the shelves of the Monrovia Public Library.

With a title taken from a Langston Hughes poem, A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry is one of America’s most celebrated and performed plays. Debuting on Broadway in 1959 with Sidney Poitier and revived in 2014 with Denzel Washington in starring roles, this is the story of a black Chicago family who uses part of an inheritance to buy a house in a white neighborhood.  The new neighbors, not wanting African Americans in their community, offer to buy the house at a higher price.  The 1961 and 1989 film and television adaptations of A Raisin in the Sun can also be found on the DVD shelves. 

Another play where the Library also has the film is For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf. Playwright Ntozake Shange’s feminist play/prose/poem is about a group of women of color who share the intimate and emotional parts of their lives.
A student at the American Negro Theater and the first African American woman to have a play produced in New York, Alice Childress was a multitalented actress and author who also wrote books and screenplays. Her plays include Wedding Band: A Love/Hate Story in Black and White about an interracial relationship. Less a romance and more a stark look at racism and sexism, the play was controversial when it was performed in 1972.
 
Bringing us to the present is Suzan Lori-Parks who won the Pulitzer Prize for Topdog/Underdog about two African American brothers at odds with each other. Also on the shelves is Parks’ 365 Days/365 Plays.


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