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American Playwrights

Lillian Hellman and Zora Neal Hurston

Stabile Building

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Lecture

Lillian Hellman and Zora Neal Hurston

Murray Biggs' American Playwrights
Artis—Naples Lifelong Learning


Murray Biggs, Adjunct Associate Professor of English and Theater Studies, Yale University

Even though Lillian Hellman (1905-1984) protested that she was not really a theater person—and indeed her fame rests more on her political activities and non-dramatic writings—she was the first modern female American playwright to be widely recognized. Best known for Little Foxes, especially through the memorable Bette Davis film adaptation, her most moving play is probably Toys in the Attic (1960), a quietly sad testament to the faded gentility of the Old South. 

Every subsequent African American writer is culturally indebted to Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960), whose novel Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937) has become a national classic. Her plays of the African American experience in the US include Mule Bone (1931), a Southern folk or community work subtitled A Comedy of Negro Life that she co-wrote with African American poet and playwright Langston Hughes.

This presentation is part of Murray Biggs' American Playwrights lecture series.


Professor Biggs will show short film clips to illustrate each lecture. He will not assume that the audience has prior knowledge of the plays.

Murray Biggs

Murray Biggs


Murray Biggs, a former South African Rhodes Scholar, taught English, Theater, and Film at Yale for 28 years full-time until 2014. He now lectures on drama and theater, partly for Yale and partly independently, throughout the US, Canada, England and Ireland. His nearly 30 published articles across a wide range of drama topics focus on the interface between text and performance. He has directed over 40 stage productions, especially at Yale and MIT, where in 1974 he founded the Shakespeare Ensemble, a student group specializing in performances of Shakespeare and where he won the Institute's only award for undergraduate teaching. 

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