Their Place on the Stage: Black Women Playwrights in America

By Elizabeth Brown-Guillory | Go to book overview

handed the torch from preceding generations, have continued to move forward, to develop, to expand, and to contribute to the literature of the American theater." 72

Childress' writing career spans four decades, making her the mother of professional black theater in America. Hansberry's 1959 Broadway debut made black theater fashionable and marketable. Shange's 1976 explosive choreopoem broadened black theater to include a quest for sexual as well as racial and social identity. The dramaturgical advances made by these women are as interdependent as African Americans are to their African counterparts, a subject that is prominent in the works of all three women. It was because of Childress' pioneering spirit that Hansberry's vision could be shared with the world and Shange's new temper could appeal to women everywhere of every race.


NOTES
1.
Margaret Wilkerson, 9 Plays by Black Women ( New York: New American Library, 1982), pp. xviii-xix.
2.
Doris E. Abramson, Negro Playwrights in the American Theatre, 1925-1959 ( New York: Columbia University Press, 1967), p. 27.
3.
Genevieve Fabre, Afro-American Poetry and Drama, 1760-1975 ( Detroit, Mich.: Book Tower, 1979), pp. 251-263.
4.
Mance Williams, Black Theatre in the 1960s and 1970s ( Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1985), p. 112.
5.
Ibid., p. 113.
6.
Alice Childress, Interviewed at Amherst, Mass., May 1, 1987. Unless otherwise indicated, quotes from Childress are based upon this personal interview.
7.
Abramson, p. 189.
8.
Alice Childress, "Knowing the Human Condition," in Black American Literature and Humanism, ed. R. Baxter Miller ( Lexington, Ky.: The University Press of Kentucky, 1981), p. 10.
9.
Biographical information on Alice Childress in this section and in sections that follow is based upon the following sources: Trudier Harris, "Alice Childress," in DLB, vol. 38, Afro-American Writers After 1955: Dramatists and Prose Writers, eds., Thadious Davis and Trudier Harris ( Michigan: Gale Research Co., 1985), pp. 66- 79; Doris Abramson, Negro Playwrights in the American Theatre, 1925-1959 ( New York: Columbia University Press, 1967), pp. 188-190; Dedria Bryfonski, ed., "Alice Childress," Contemporary Literary Criticism, vol. 12 ( Detroit, Mich.: Gale Research Co., 1980), pp. 104-109; Elizabeth Brown-Guillory, "Alice Childress: A Pioneering Spirit," SAGE: A Scholarly Journal on Black Women, vol. 4 (Spring 1987), pp. 66- 68.
10.
Williams, pp. 11-12.
11.
Dedria Bryfonski, ed., "Alice Childress," Contemporary Literary Criticism, vol. 12 ( Detroit, Mich.: Gale Research Co., 1980) p. 104.
12.
Trudier Harris, "Alice Childress," in DLB, vol. 38, eds., Thadious Davis and Trudier Harris ( Detroit, Mich.: Gale Research Co., 1985), p. 69.

-46-

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Their Place on the Stage: Black Women Playwrights in America
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Foreword xiii
  • 1 - Black Theater Tradition and Women Playwrights of the Harlem Renaissance 1
  • 2 - Alice Childress, Lorraine Hansberry, Ntozake Shange: Carving a Place for Themselves on the American Stage 25
  • Notes 46
  • 3 - Tonal Form: Symbols as Shapers of Theater of Struggle"" 51
  • Notes 74
  • 4 - Structural Form: African American Initiation and Survival Rituals 79
  • Notes 100
  • 5 - Mirroring the Dark and Beautiful Warriors: Images of Blacks 105
  • Notes 130
  • 6 - The African Continuum: The Progeny in the New World 135
  • Notes 149
  • Afterword 151
  • Note 152
  • Selected Bibliography 153
  • Index 159
  • About the Author 165
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