Day 5 – Favorite Play – I’ve had to put two recommendations for this challenge. I’m strongly recommending August Wilson’s The Century Cycle series. I haven’t read all of them yet but woking on it. Here’s my copy of Joe Turner’s Come and Gone which I’ll be reading this month. It’s the second play in the ten-play series set in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, which covers the development of African-Americans over the 20th century. These plays are great American classics and literary award winning – Pulitzer Prize for Drama Fences in 1987 and Piano Lessons in 1990. Joe Turner’s Come and Gone was winner of The New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play in 1988.
Joe Turner’s Come and Gone – “When Herald Loomis arrives at a black Pittsburgh boardinghouse after seven years’ impressed labor on Joe Turner’s chain gang, he is a free man-in body.
But the scars of his enslavement and a sense of inescapable alienation oppress his spirit still, and the seemingly hospitable rooming house seethes with tension and distrust in the presence of this tormented stranger. Loomis is looking for the wife he left behind, believing that she can help him reclaim his old identity. But through his encounters with the other residents he begins to realize that what he really seeks is his rightful place in a new world – and it will take more then the skills of the local “People Finder” to discover it… “(Goodreads description)
My second recommendation is Topdog/Underdog by the underrated and hardly spoken about Suzan-Lori Parks. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for Topdog/Underdog, which is believed to be her magnum opus. I’m in the middle of reading it and I’m loving it. Parks is a playwright and screenwriter. She was born in 1963 in Fort Knox, Kentucky. She soon moved to Western Germany because her father was stationed there as a career officer in the United States Army. Those years studying in Germany in middle school and high school taught her about what it means to be considered foreign. Parks is also known for writing a debut novel called Getting Mother’s Body, for which she was a nominee for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award in 2004 for Debut Fiction. Girl 6 was her first screenplay for Spike Lee in 1996 and later she worked on the screenplays of Their Eyes Were Watching God in 2005 and The Great Debaters in 2007. Parks had the opportunity to study under the phenomenal writer, James Baldwin who encouraged her to pursue writing plays. She apparently had a habit of acting out her characters when presenting them in class.
Topdog/Underdog – “A darkly comic fable of brotherly love and family identity is Suzan-Lori Parks latest riff on the way we are defined by history. The play tells the story of Lincoln and Booth, two brothers whose names were given to them as a joke, foretelling a lifetime of sibling rivalry and resentment. Haunted by the past, the brothers are forced to confront the shattering reality of their future.” (Goodreads description)
My copies: Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, paperback – 94 pages
Topdog/Underdog, paperback – 112 pages
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