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«Sturdy Black Bridges» on the American Stage

The Portrayal of Black Motherhood in Selected Plays by Contemporary African American Women Playwrights


Susanna Bösch

This study takes a closer look at the African American mother (grandmother) and her portrayal in selected plays by Black women playwrights. The introductory chapters discuss stereotypes, the historical importance of Black motherhood and the Black woman's place in African American theater. Then follows a discussion of contemporary writers, namely Pearl Cleage, J.e Franklin, P.J. Gibson, Kim Hines, Lee Hunkins, Aishah Rahman and Ntozake Shange and ten of their plays. The goal was to choose mostly unknown writers and so most of the information about the writers is based on personal interviews which are added in an appendix. Each playwright has her own experience, vision, concerns and style. There are thematic and stylistic tendencies which, however, should not be generalized.
Contents: Black motherhood: myth and reality (stereotypes, historical importance, motherhood today, the grandmother) - Women playwrights and African American theater - Images of mothers in Black drama - Discussion of selected contemporary playwrights and their plays - Transcriptions of interviews/discussions.