The Adrienne Kennedy Reader

Overview

Adrienne Kennedy has been a force in American theatre since the early 1960s, influencing generations of playwrights with her hauntingly fragmentary lyrical dramas. Exploring the violence racism visits upon people's lives, Kennedy's plays express poetic alienation, transcending the particulars of character and plot through ritualistic repetition and radical structural experimentation. Frequently produced, read, and taught, they continue to hold a significant place among the most ...
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Adrienne Kennedy Reader

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Overview

Adrienne Kennedy has been a force in American theatre since the early 1960s, influencing generations of playwrights with her hauntingly fragmentary lyrical dramas. Exploring the violence racism visits upon people's lives, Kennedy's plays express poetic alienation, transcending the particulars of character and plot through ritualistic repetition and radical structural experimentation. Frequently produced, read, and taught, they continue to hold a significant place among the most exciting dramas of the past fifty years.

This first comprehensive collection of her most important works traces the development of Kennedy's unique theatrical oeuvre from her Obie-winning Funnyhouse of a Negro (1964) through significant later works such as A Movie Star Has to Star in Black and White (1976), Ohio State Murders (1992), and June and Jean in Concert, for which she won an Obie in 1996. The entire contents of Kennedy's groundbreaking collections In One Act and The Alexander Plays are included, as is her earliest work "Because of the King of France" and the play An Evening with Dead Essex (1972). More recent prose works "Secret Paragraphs about My Brother," "A Letter to Flowers," and "Sisters Etta and Ella" are fascinating refractions of the themes and motifs of her dramatic works, even while they explore new material on teaching and writing. An introduction by Werner Sollors provides a valuable overview of Kennedy's career and the trajectory of her literary development.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
It is a pleasure to have so much of Kennedy's output in a single volume, the first major collection of her work. Kennedy won Obie awards for her plays Funnyhouse of a Negro, June and Jean in Concert (both included here), and Sleep Deprivation Chamber (written with her son Adam). Her texts are often fragmentary, nonlinear, and experimental; they are also highly feminist and often deal with the painful topic of racism from the viewpoint of an African American woman who came of age in the 1950s and 1960s. Kennedy was inspired by many things: visits to family in Georgia, Giotto's frescoes, fairy tales, extensive travel to Europe and Africa, and Hollywood films. During a long stay in Africa and Europe, she wrote an experimental short story, "Because of the King of France," published under a pen name in the journal Black Orpheus and reprinted in this volume. Werner Sollors's (Beyond Ethnicity) introduction helpfully puts Kennedy's work into an autobiographical and theatrical context, but the plays, short stories, and other writings are the most valuable aspect of this volume. Of particular importance is a group of previously unpublished prose pieces. Recommended to academic libraries and libraries with theater collections. Susan L. Peters, Univ. of Texas, Galveston Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816636020
  • Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2001
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 9.34 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction
Because of the King of France 3
Adrienne Kennedy in One Act
Funnyhouse of a Negro 11
On the Writing of Funnyhouse of a Negro 27
The Owl Answers 29
A Lesson in Dead Language 43
A Rat's Mass 47
Sun 55
A Movie Star Has to Star in Black and White 62
Electra (Euripides) 79
Orestes (Euripides) 99
An Evening with Dead Essex 117
The Alexander Plays
She Talks to Beethoven 139
Ohio State Murders 151
The Film Club (A Monologue by Suzanne Alexander) 174
Dramatic Circle 182
Letter to My Students on My Sixty-first Birthday by Suzanne Alexander 197
Motherhood 2000 228
Secret Paragraphs about My Brother 234
June and Jean in Concert (Concert of Their Lives) 239
A Letter to Flowers 262
Sisters Etta and Ella (excerpt from a narrative) 291
Grendel and Grendel's Mother 300
Copyright and Original Publication Information 307
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