Whether you’re looking to build your monologue repertoire, searching for plays to direct when theatres reopen, or just finding ways to pass the time, it’s always a good time to read a play by a woman of color. As outlined in this great Daily Beast article, we are underrepresented and underproduced in the theatre, and especially on Broadway (read: highest paying) stages. So cast women of color, produce our plays, and start with a few of the playwrights here if you don’t know where to begin.
Bright Half Life by Tanya Barfield. A minimalist lesbian romance that spans a lifetime of joy, heartache, grief, and memorable dates.
Watch by Lisa B. Thompson, an Afrofuturist examination of what it would be like to be the last black woman on earth. Available on the New Play Exchange.
Intimate Apparel by Lynne Nottage. The story of a talented black seamstress in 1905 chasing her dreams of owning her own hair salon and finding love.
Noura by Heather Raffo. The story of a family who must face their own past and wounds as they open their home to an Iraqi refugee for a traditional Christmas.
Venus by Suzan Lori Parks. A funny, heartbreaking absurdist drama about the way black women’s bodies have been commodified throughout history, specifically regarding Sarah Baartman, the the so-called “Hottentot Venus.”
Fires in the Mirror by Anna Deavere Smith. The stunning, classic, one-woman show based on dozens of interviews with people involved in the 1991 Crown Heights riots.
Funnyhouse of a Negro by Adrienne Kennedy. A classic, surreal one-act play about one woman’s struggle with racial identity, mental illness, and her role in the world.
The Thanksgiving Play by Larissa Fasthorse. A satire about four white people attempting to create a “woke” play about Thanskgiving for school children.
Chimichangas and Zoloft by Fernanda Coppel. The irreverant coming-of-age story of two teenagers, Jackie and Penelope who try to lure Jackie’s mother Sonia back home after Sonia flees her disappointing 40th birthday.
Let me know who your favorite WOC playwrights are in the comments! I’m always looking for more plays to read. Hope you are all safe and healthy.
Love and theatre,