By Christine R. Gray
During the Nineteen Twenties and Thirties, Willis Richardson (1889-1977) used to be hugely revered as a number one African-American playwright and drama anthologist. His performs have been played through various black highschool, collage, and college drama teams and via theater businesses in Chicago, big apple, Washington D.C., Cleveland, Baltimore, and Atlanta. With the hole of The Chip Woman's Fortune (1923), he grew to become the 1st African American to have a play produced on Broadway. a number of of his forty six performs have been released in various magazines, and in his essays, he instructed black american citizens to hunt their dramatic fabric of their personal lives and situations. additionally, he edited 3 anthologies of performs by way of African-Americans. yet among 1940 and his dying in 1977, Richardson got here to gain that his performs have been interval items and they not mirrored the issues and events of African-Americans. within the years ahead of his demise, he tried vigorously but unsuccessfully to maintain a number of of his performs via e-book, if no longer creation. however the guy who has been known as the daddy of African-American drama and who used to be thought of the desire and promise of African-American drama died in obscurity.
Richardson has even been ignored by way of the scholarly neighborhood. This serious biography, the 1st broad attention of his lifestyles and paintings, firmly reestablishes his pioneering position in American theater. The e-book starts with an in depth chronology, by means of a considerate biographical essay. the amount then examines the character of African-American drama within the Nineteen Twenties, the interval within which Richardson used to be most efficient, and it analyzes his method of drama as a method of teaching African-American audiences. It then explores the African-American group because the valuable subject matter in Richardson's performs, for Richardson usually appears on the results of refusals through blacks to assist each other. The paintings also considers Richardson's historical past performs, his anthologies, his dramas meant for black teenagers, and his essays. A concluding bankruptcy summarizes his lasting effect; the publication closes with an inventory of his performs and an in depth bibliography.
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Extra resources for Willis Richardson, Forgotten Pioneer of African-American Drama
To show that AfricanAmerican] roots are there to be proud of” (qtd. in Selby 5). As African Americans sought to improve the standards of their education, the Jelliffes used the stage as a way of reaching African-American students to teach them African and African-American history. 19. On 5 May 1941, his comic skit Miss or Mrs.
The group sought to “develop the Negro’s particular dramatic quality, to keep [the group] from being too contaminated by the western theatrical manner” (192). It focused on the development of African-American drama to this end. Karamu, a Swahili word meaning “place of joyful meeting,” was organized in 1915 by Russell and Rowena Jelliffe, both white. This couple saw their mission as showing African Americans “what they have, what their ancestors had, what their heritage is. . [To show that AfricanAmerican] roots are there to be proud of” (qtd.
10 Seeing the play was a turning point in Richardson’s life, for the production led him to consider writing plays, a decision that would bring him both great joy and great disappointment. Walking home from that evening’s production, Richardson commented to Bohannan that while Rachel was “a good play,” he felt that together they “could do something better” (Garvin). 11 His plans to collaborate with Bohannan never took shape. After reading a “thousand books on plays and playwrighting [sic],” he began writing his own material (“Youth”).
Willis Richardson, Forgotten Pioneer of African-American Drama by Christine R. Gray