Wines in the Wilderness: Plays by African American Women from the Harlem Renaissance to the Present

By Elizabeth Brown-Guillory | Go to book overview

EUILALIE SPENCE (1894-1981)
Hot Stuff ( 1927)
Episode ( 1928)

BIOGRAPHY AND ACHIEVEMENTS

Eulalie Spence was born in Nevis, British West Indies, on June 11, 1894. She moved to New York City via Ellis Island with her seven sisters and her father when she was eight years old. Spence earned a B.S. at New York University in 1937 and an M.A. in speech at Columbia University in 1939. For many years she worked as a teacher and dramatic society coach at the Eastern District High School in Brooklyn. She died in New York City in 1981.

Eulalie Spence, unlike the other dozen or so black women dramatists of the Harlem Renaissance, wrote about everyday life in Harlem. Many of her female contemporaries had attended Howard University and settled in the Washington, D.C., area, but Spence chose to remain in New York City where she had grown up and been educated. Like Langston Hughes, she captured the spirit of Harlemites. Primarily concerned with the down-home folks, her plays are identifiably domestic dramas.

During the 1920s, Spence wrote a number of one-act plays, including Hot Stuff, ( 1927) Fool's Errand, ( 1927), Foreign Mail ( 1927), Her ( 1927), The Hunch ( 1927), The Starter ( 1927), Episode ( 1928), Help Wanted ( 1929), and Undertow ( 1929). Her full-length play, The Whipping ( 1933), was optioned by Paramount Productions but was never produced.

Unlike many of her contemporaries, Spence was deeply interested in not only writing plays but also in getting them produced. Spence was extremely active in community theater, where she directed many of her own plays as well as those of her contemporaries such as Eugene O'Neill. She helped establish the Dunbar Garden Players in the late 1920s and directed the group's plays at St. Mark's Theater on Lower Second Avenue. Spence was also very active with the Krigwa Players, which was founded by W. E. B. Du Bois and originally housed in the basement of the Harlem Branch of the New York Public Library at 135th Street. As Du Bois had instructed

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Wines in the Wilderness: Plays by African American Women from the Harlem Renaissance to the Present
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Preface xiii
  • MARITA BONNER (1899-1971) 1
  • GEORGIA, DOUGLAS JOHNSON (1880-1966) 11
  • EUILALIE SPENCE (1894-1981) 39
  • May Miller (1899- ) 61
  • SHIRLEY GRAHAM (1896-1977) 79
  • ALICE CHILDRESS (1920-) 97
  • SONIA SANCHEZ (1934 -- ) 151
  • SYBIL KEIN (1939- ) 163
  • ELIZABETH BROWN- GUILLORY (1954-) 185
  • Bibliography 229
  • Index 249
  • About the Author *
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