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Contemporary Plays by African American Women

Ten Complete Works

Groundbreaking twenty-first-century works for classes, actors, and theatergoers

African American women have increasingly begun to see their plays performed from regional stages to Broadway. Yet many of these artists still struggle to gain attention. In this volume, Sandra Adell draws from the vital wellspring of works created by African American women in the twenty-first century to present ten plays by both prominent and up-and-coming writers. Taken together, the selections portray how these women engage with history as they delve into--and shake up--issues of gender and class to craft compelling stories of African American life. Gliding from gritty urbanism to rural landscapes, these works expand boundaries and boldly disrupt modes of theatrical representation.

Selections: Blue Door, by Tanya Barfield; Levee James, by S. M. Shephard-Massat; Hoodoo Love, by Katori Hall; Carnaval, by Nikkole Salter; Single Black Female, by Lisa B. Thompson; Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine, by Lynn Nottage; BlackTop Sky, by Christina Anderson; Voyeurs de Venus, by Lydia Diamond; Fedra, by J. Nicole Brooks; and Uppa Creek: A Modern Anachronistic Parody in the Minstrel Tradition, by Keli Garrett.

"A wonderful addition to dramatic literature, this important volume brings the talents of these remarkable playwrights to a broader audience. With this anthology of plays we see the larger conversations--loud voices of a new, unsatisfied generation. These women join their foremothers taking on form and content to take on the most pressing issues of our day. They relentlessly ensure that by reading this collection your beliefs will be tested and you will come to a better understanding about the world."--Nadine George-Graves, author of Urban Bush Women: Twenty Years of African American Dance Theater, Community Engagement, and Working It Out

"A fascinating collection that brings important but rarely presented perspectives on African American life to the stage. I have a hard time imagining aspiring actresses not having a copy of this book on their bookshelves and mining it for audition material."--Harvey Young, author of Theatre and Race

"Adell's compendium offers an opportunity for new scholarly inquiries in theatre history and puts, at the fingertips of educators and students, a dramatic sampling of the best and freshest African American women playwrights of the twenty-first century."--Artisia Green, College of William and Mary

"Dr. Adell's book is a refreshingly contemporary collection of plays by both newer, and some more prominent, African-American female playwrights. It is an essential anthology for scholars and practitioners interested in reading, discovering, and collecting early twenty-first-century plays by these artists and a great complement to other anthologies that feature the work of African-American female playwrights."--Martine Kei Green-Rogers, University of Utah


Sandra Adell is a literature professor in the Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the author of Double-Consciousness/Double Bind: Theoretical Issues in Twentieth-Century Black Literature.

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