Best Black Plays

Best Black Plays

The Theodore Ward Prize for African American Playwriting

Within the relatively recent development of a tradition of African American playwriting, the Theodore Ward Prize has, over its twenty-year history, offered a rich reflection of the accomplishments of emerging and established black playwrights and their growing importance in shaping contemporary theater. This volume showcases three winners of the Theodore Ward Prize--plays that in their quality and subject matter aptly represent what is being written and produced by African American playwrights and theaters today.


Carefully selected by a director and educator who has been affiliated with the contest for eighteen of its twenty years, these three works have themes that range from the sordid shenanigans of a Depression-era "South Side Burial Society" (Leslie Lee's Sundown Names and Night-Gone Things) to a single mother's heartbreaking battle to save her children's souls (Mark Clayton Southers' Ma Noah) to a poignant and achingly funny reunion of three sisters after their parents' death (Kim Euell's The Diva Daughters DuPree). Their publication answers a growing demand for the work of African American playwrights even as it affords deep and varied insights into African American culture in our era.

About the Author

Chuck Smith is a resident director at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, where his productions have included The Story, Proof, The Death of Bessie Smith, The Gift Horse, The Amen Corner, A Raisin in the Sun, Blues for an Alabama Sky, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, A Christmas Carol, and The Meeting. Smith is also a faculty member in the Theater Department of Columbia College, Chicago. He is the editor of Seven Black Plays: The Theodore Ward Prize for African American Playwriting (Northwestern, 2004).
Reviews
"All praises to those who worked to bring the publication of Seven Black Plays to fruition. Ted Ward was the master storyteller! We shared the vision that one day there would be a vehicle to lift up the young griots; to provide venues for their voices to be heard and to celebrate the richness of the African American experience. As Ted Ward would say with great finality, 'That's the whole thing right there.'"--Abena Joan P. Brown, ETA Creative Arts Foundation
"Chuck Smith is to be commended for bringing together these plays and these playwrights; they are rich and diverse in their perspectives on the African American experience. This volume is a tremendous addition to the canon of African American literature to be read, studied, and, most important, produced for the stage."
--Ron Himes, St. Louis Black Repertory Company