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

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Elizabeth Brown-Guillory
Greenwood Press, 1990 - Literary Criticism - 251 pages

For those whose familiarity with black women playwrights is limited to the works of Lorraine Hansberry and Ntozake Shange, this collection of 15 plays written between 1925 and 1985 by eight authors will be a revelation. They express a passionate longing for social justice and for a stable, nurturing relationship between black men and women. Introductions for each author provide biographical information and critical analyses. A useful bibliography of plays and secondary sources is also included. This anthology helps to fill a serious gap in the standard histories of American drama. Library Journal

Wines in the Wilderness brings together thirteen plays by black women from the 1920s to the present, including works by Marita Bonner, Georgia Douglas Johnson, Eulalie Spence, May Miller, Shirley Graham, Alice Childress, Sonia Sanchez, Sybil Kein, and Elizabeth Brown-Guillory. The plays and dramatists selected are representative of and have made considerable contributions to African American theater.

Although the works of these playwrights span over sixty years, they are closely linked by the theme of women struggling to define their roles in society. The heroines speak out against interracial and intraracial biases, stereotyping, lynch mobs, illiteracy, poverty, promiscuity, self-righteousness, abusive men, rape, and miscegenation. Each play is preceded by a critical introduction that includes biographical information, an assessment of the playwright's contributions to black theater, and a synopsis and critical analysis of the play. The bibliography that follows the plays provides selected lists of published plays, produced plays, and anthologies. An index completes the work. This collection represents an effort to make available plays written by black women that have not been published or are now out of print. In recovering these plays, scholars will now be able to take a close look at the contributions that black women dramatists have made not only to African American theater, but to American theater in general.

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Georgia Douglas Johnson 18801966
Eulalie Spence 18941981
May Miller 1899

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About the author (1990)

ELIZABETH BROWN-GUILLORY is Associate Professor of English at the University of Houston. Both playwright and literary critic, she is the author of two plays, Bayou Relics and Snapshots of Broken Dolls, the latter produced at Lincoln Center in 1986, and the critical book, Their Place on the Stage: Black Women Playwrights in America (Greenwood Press, 1988). She has published a host of articles and book reviews in Phylon, Dictionary of Literary Biography, Sage: A Scholarly Journal on Black Women, Xavier Review, The Griot, Masterplots, Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, and American Literature. Currently she is working on a critical book on playwright and novelist Alice Childress.

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