Review by Choice Review

This is the first book-length study of black American women playwrights. It will be useful to scholars in the fields of black and women's literature and an excellent source of background reading in graduate and undergraduate courses on American women playwrights. The author's training as both a scholar and a playwright is evident in this book. The study begins with a brief discussion of the African origins of African American theater. It then moves into an analysis of the many women playwrights of the Harlem Renaissance who are rarely mentioned in most literary studies of the era. In the third chapter the focus narrrows on the three playwrights who constitute the core of the study: Lorraine Hansberry, Alice Childress, and Ntozake Shange. In addition to a discussion of each of their major plays, Brown-Guillory analyzes the tonal and structural forms of their plays and the images of blacks each woman creates. The three playwrights are linked in this study by their portrayal of the black struggle in an inhumane society and by their common focus on the "spirit of survival" of African Americans. Several major black women playwrights, such as Adrienne Kennedy, are not included in this discussion, but through her work Brown-Guillory has nonetheless sounded a call for more studies of this topic. -A. Deck, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

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