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American Playwrights

Lorraine Hansberry and Alice Childress

Stabile Building

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Stabile Building 10:00am
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Lecture

Lorraine Hansberry and Alice Childress

Murray Biggs' American Playwrights
Artis—Naples Lifelong Learning


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

In 1959, A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965) became the first play by an African American woman to be produced on Broadway. Its recurring popularity has unfairly eclipsed her other work, whose remarkable variety includes Les Blancs, an uncompromising analysis of colonialism in Africa that she left unfinished before her early death and was later completed by her literary executor and former husband, Robert Nemiroff.

Although Alice Childress (1916-1994) is the least well-known of this quartet of female American playwrights, her plays have recently re-entered the theatrical repertoire, especially as the frequent staging of work by August Wilson has expanded the audience for African American drama generally. Childress labeled Trouble in Mind (1955) “a comedy-drama.” Its vivid understanding of black-white relations, even in the progressive artistic circles of New York City 60 years ago, still speaks to us today.

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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