Their Place on the Stage: Black Women Playwrights in America

By Elizabeth Brown-Guillory | Go to book overview

There is a strong kinship bond that exists among blacks, one that links the blood-related family to other African Americans and to their African ancestors. Jim Haskins, in "Some African Influences on the Afro-American Theater," contends that "as acquaintance with things African grows, as the essential and difficult work of tracing Africanism in America continues, we will come to know how really vast and invisible the African influence on all American theater has been." 35 The black women playwrights of this study have drawn, both consciously and intuitively, upon African traditions to solidify the African American family. Childress, Hansberry, and Shange speak of the drums that beckon and prompt them to write of the heartbeat and the rhythms of a people whose single most important forte is its sense of family.


NOTES
1.
Robert B. Hill, The Strengths of Black Families ( New York: Emerson Hall Publishers, 1977), p. 37.
2.
Eleanor Engram, Science, Myth, Reality: The Black Family in One-Half Century of Research ( Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1982), p. 37.
3.
Daniel P. Moynihan, The Negro Family: The Case for National Action ( Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Planning and Research, March 1965), P. 1.
4.
Hill, p. 37.
5.
Martin Luther King, "An Address by Martin Luther King" in The Moynihan Report and the Politics of Controversy, eds. Lee Rainwater and William Yancey ( Cambridge, Mass.: M.I.T. Press, 1967), p. 408.
6.
Andrew Billingsley, Black Families in White America (Englewood Cliffs, NJ.: Prentice Hall, Inc. 1968), p. 24. Information on the various types of black family structures is based upon this source.
7.
Engram, p. 123.
8.
Ibid., p. 26.
9.
John H. Scanzoni, The Black Family in Modern Society ( Boston, Mass.: Allyn and Bacon, Inc. 1971), p. 12.
10.
Billingsley, p. 13.
11.
Alice Childress, "A Candle in a Gale Wind," in Black Women Writers (1950- 1980), ed. Mari Evans ( New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1984), p. 112.
12.
Alice Childress, "Florence," in Masses and Mainstream, vol. 3 ( October 1950), pp. 34-47. All quotes and references to the play are based upon this source.
13.
Alice Childress, "Wine in the Wilderness," in Black Theater U.S.A.: Forty- Five Plays by Black Americans 1847-1974, eds. James V. Hatch and Ted Shine ( New York: The Free Press, 1974), pp. 738-755. All quotes and references to the play are based upon this source.
14.
Lee Rainwater and William Yancey, eds. The Moynihan Report and the Politics of Controversy ( Cambridge, Mass.: M.I.T. Press, 1967), p. 32.
15.
John O. Killens, "The Literary Genius of Alice Childress," in Black WomenWriters (1950-1980)

-149-

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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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