Best Black Plays: The Theodore Ward Prize for African American Playwriting

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Chuck Smith
Northwestern University Press, Jul 27, 2007 - Drama - 226 pages
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Within the relatively recent development of a tradition of African American playwriting, the Theodore Ward Prize has, over its twenty-year history, offered a rich reflection of the accomplishments of emerging and established black playwrights and their growing importance in shaping contemporary theater. This volume showcases three winners of the Theodore Ward Prize--plays that in their quality and subject matter aptly represent what is being written and produced by African American playwrights and theaters today.

Carefully selected by a director and educator who has been affiliated with the contest for eighteen of its twenty years, these three works have themes that range from the sordid shenanigans of a Depression-era "South Side Burial Society" (Leslie Lee's Sundown Names and Night-Gone Things) to a single mother's heartbreaking battle to save her children's souls (Mark Clayton Southers' Ma Noah) to a poignant and achingly funny reunion of three sisters after their parents' death (Kim Euell's The Diva Daughters DuPree). Their publication answers a growing demand for the work of African American playwrights even as it affords deep and varied insights into African American culture in our era.
 

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Contents

Sundown Names and NightGone Things Leslie Lee
3
Ma Noah Mark Clayton Southers
79
The Diva Daughters DuPress Kim Euell
147
Afterword Chuck Smith
213
Contest Guidelines
217
FirstPlace Winners of the Theodore Ward Prize for African American Playwriting
221
Scenes and Monologues
223
About the Playwrights
225
Copyright

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About the author (2007)

Chuck Smith is a resident director at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, where his productions have included The Story, Proof, The Death of Bessie Smith, The Gift Horse, The Amen Corner, A Raisin in the Sun, Blues for an Alabama Sky, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, A Christmas Carol, and The Meeting. Smith is also a faculty member in the Theater Department of Columbia College, Chicago. He is the editor of Seven Black Plays: The Theodore Ward Prize for African American Playwriting (Northwestern, 2004).

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