Date of Award

Fall 12-18-2014

Degree Type

Closed Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Pearl McHaney

Second Advisor

Dr. Matthew Roundane

Third Advisor

Dr. A. Clifton Myles


Finding African American plays which are intellectually stimulating, yet relatable to the everyday African American is quite a challenge. This is in part because much of what is written and considered by mainstream America to be quality African American theater, is either not written by African Americans, not written in a manner which many of them will easily relate to it, or is not written about the “Black experience” which is the reality for an overwhelming majority of African Americans. Often the plays utilize language which appeals to mainstream America and educated African Americans; however, is somewhat foreign to the overwhelming majority of African Americans, many who are socially and economically deprived. For any writer, considering one’s audience is vitally important. For the African American playwright who gains popularity, there is always the scarlet letter worn of representing the entire race and knowing that whether good, bad, or indifferent, his/her works will be a badge that will be linked to all African Americans. For most educated African Americans, there exists this inner conflict of existing in two worlds, neither of which they truly feel at home. There is always the underlying challenge of whether the work should be simply entertaining or whether it must possess some didactic message which will change the world for the African American race. Having lived and survived the “Black experience,” which for many involved socially and economically disparaging environments, the African American writer feels like he/she is betraying the race if they do not write works with the primary goal of uplifting the race. This dissertation provides three plays addressing the African American experience. With the subtitle “Black Voices,” they address the three primary groups in the African American community – women, men, and children. To ensure that quality African American plays exist which chronicle the “Black experience” without regard to the perception from mainstream America is vitally important. This dissertation addresses some of the reasons why many African American playwrights have challenges with audience and provides plays by the author which bravely address some of the “hidden bruises” within the African American community.