Contents on the drama shelves in bookstores, libraries, and our studies have altered radically in the last several years. When we conceived this project three years ago, the paucity of collections and anthologies of plays by women of varied ethnicities and cultures severely limited the possibilities for production and study. We now have valuable anthologies of African American, Asian American, and Hispanic women and lesbian playwrights and, to date, at least one collection of plays by women of color. Further, the work of playwrights most often confined to the margins of alternative spaces and ethnic specific theatres has appeared under separate cover. For professors assembling a reading list, and theatres searching for plays of women playwrights writing outside the mainstream, these collections are invaluable aids. Just as important, when a drama book customer searches the shelves of a bookstore, she or he will see for the first time plays representing the diversity of life in America.
Change continues, too, in the language used to describe peoples who are not Caucasian, not heterosexual--partly an outcome of the rapid and confusing assimilation by nonwhites and homosexuals into mainstream culture. "Minority" and "third world" have long been regarded as insulting words by black, Hispanic, and Asian people who, worldwide, outnumber white people. Certainly, many hours of conversation have ensued between ourselves and our colleagues, essayists, nominators, and editors, and many words have been considered in relation to the wording of the "categories" in this guide as well as its title. When we began, African American was de rigueur; three years later, "black" has reemerged as an acceptable and, by some, preferable choice. Where "queer" was once as derogatory as "nigger," now many younger homosexuals have appropriated a designation previously regarded as inflammatory. The language we use in these pages represents the advice of those who contributed to this book coupled with our own preference for words in common use for several