Contemporary African American Female Playwrights: An Annotated Bibliography

By Dana A. Williams | Go to book overview
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Not until 1986 when Margaret Wilkerson compiled Nine Plays by Black Women was there a published collection of plays exclusively by black women. As Sydné Mahone notes in her anthology Moon Marked and Touched by Sun: Plays by African-American Women, "the tradition of African-American women playwrights can be traced back as far as the late nineteenth century; nevertheless, contemporary women playwrights remain on the edge, scrawling in the margins of today's mainstream theater" (xiii). Even though Lorraine Hansberry A Raisin in the Sun ( 1959) raised the world's consciousness about the abilities of African American female playwrights, both the theater and the literary world often have neglected to include African American women dramatists within the circle of production, publication, and criticism. In African American drama anthologies, female playwrights are seldom given the degree of attention that is given to male playwrights. In the Black Drama Anthology edited by Woodie King Jr. and Ron Milner, of the twenty-three (23) dramas anthologized, only two, Martie Charles' Black Cycle and Elaine Jackson Toe Jam, are authored by women. Because anthologies that exclusively collect dramas by women have limited space and are few in number, many published female playwrights go unnoticed, unread, and unproduced for reasons ranging from the work's inherent shortcomings to the playwright's failure to promote a work extensively to discrimination by a male-dominated theater world. Mahone contends that "Black women playwrights are not included in mainstream American theater because their work in some ways challenges or simply does not reflect the images and interest of the financially dominant culture, the white patriarchy. The black female playwright presents an alternative viewpoint and therefore is more likely to be embraced in those venues that serve alternative, progressive artistic agendas" (xiii). Ultimately, African American female playwrights are pushed to the margins of both American theater and the male-dominated, African American theater. But as bell hooks notes in from


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Contemporary African American Female Playwrights: An Annotated Bibliography


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