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Plays With African-American or Black Actors

Starstruck by Roy Williams

Dennis, a young man, is at a Kingston Bus Station. Another young man arrives carrying several bags. Dennis starts talking to him, but the man is suspicious. His mother warned him about thieves. Dennis assures him he only wants to help. He calls a cab for the man. Dennis hears from his girlfriend, Pammy, about a movie star who’s shooting a film in Kingston. Meanwhile, Gravel plans on starting a taxi service.

The beginning of this play can be read in the preview of Starstruck’ & ‘The No-Boys Cricket Club(Kindle preview)

Blue Door by Tanya Barfield

Lewis can’t sleep. His wife has left him because he wouldn’t go to the Million Man March. She thinks he’s disconnected from his history. He has a vision of three generations of his ancestors.

This play can be read in the preview of Contemporary Plays by African American Women: Ten Complete Works. (25% in)

Everybody Black by Dave Harris

A man introduces himself as a Black Historian. He’s been offered a lot of money by a group of white historians to write a definitive account of The Black Experience™. They want to know everything. The Black Historian accepted the offer, but there are problems—he’s mad, doesn’t know history, and has never met another Black person.

Several scenes from this play can be read in the preview of Humana Festival 2019: The Complete Plays(56% in)

Crumbs from the Table of Joy by Lynn Nottage

Godfrey Crumps’s wife has died. He was helped over his grief by a blessing through the mail from Father Divine. Wanting to be near Father Divine’s Peace Mission, Godfrey moved to Brooklyn along with his daughters, Ernestine and Ermina, seventeen and fifteen, respectively. Soon, the family is joined by their aunt Lily, who has a strong sense of individuality. After a while, Godfrey remarries.

The first few scenes of this play can be read in the preview of Crumbs from the Table of Joy and Other Plays

Dutchman by Amiri Baraka (2 Scenes)

Clay, a young black man, is riding the subway. Lula, a white woman in revealing clothes and eating an apple, boards the train. She openly flirts with Clay and behaves unpredictably.

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (3 Acts)

The Younger family lives in a low-end apartment with a shared bathroom and limited space. The grandmother, Mama, is expecting a life insurance check from the death of her husband. Her son, Walter, wants some of the money to buy a liquor store to escape his low-level job. Mama wants to buy a house for the family.

Sleep Deprivation Chamber by Adrienne Kennedy & Adam P. Kennedy (3 Scenes)

A young African-American man, Teddy, was severely beaten by a police officer during a stop over a broken taillight. He was then arrested and charged with assault and battery. He and his family cope with the situation and legal proceedings. There are several dream sequences.

“Master Harold”…and the Boys by Athol Fugard (1 Act)

Willie and Sam, black men, are waiters in a tea room in South Africa. There are no customers, so they pass the time until the white owner’s son, Hally, joins them from school. They are on good terms. They start talking about Hally’s father.

Sizwe Bansi is Dead by Athol Fugard (1 Act)

Sizwe Bansi visits the photography studio of Styles. He wants a picture taken to send his wife, and says his name is Robert Zwelinzima. He writes a letter to his wife detailing his search for work and how he came to change his name.

A Soldier’s Play by Charles H. Fuller (2 Acts)

A drunken Sergeant Waters, a black man, is killed by an anonymous shooter. A black investigator, Davenport, arrives to interview the men. He is warned that his authority won’t be respected.

Othello by William Shakespeare (5 Acts)

General Othello is in love with Desdemona. His ensign, Iago, hates him because he was passed over for promotion. Iago’s companion, Roderigo, is also in love with Desdemona. Othello and Desdemona marry. Iago plans to ruin Othello and the man who was promoted over him.

The Emperor Jones by Eugene O’Neill (1 Act)

Brutus Jones is the self-proclaimed emperor of a West Indian island. A former chief, Lem, is leading the preparations for an attack. Jones has an escape plan and believes he can handle the threat.

The Purple Flower by Marita Bonner (1 Act)

The Us’s live in the valley while the White Devils live on the hill. The Flower-of-Life-at-Its-Fullest only grows on the hill. The Us’s want to get on the hill, and talk about whether they can do that. The White Devil’s try to prevent this from happening. The Us’s have differing opinions on how to improve their situation.

Having Our Say: The Delaney Sisters’ First 100 Years by Emily Mann

Sadie and Bessie Delaney, elderly African-American sisters, have lived together most of their lives. They invite the audience into their home to talk about their lives. They aren’t rich, but they’ve managed their money well. They talk about their parents, work history, encounters with racism, the Great Depression, and other aspects of life.

Funnyhouse of a Negro by Adrienne Kennedy (1 Act)

Sarah, a young woman with a black father and white mother, lives in New York. She’s conflicted with her racial identity, with bad feelings toward her father and positive ones toward her mother. The play opens with a surreal sequence.

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