Thursday, February 23, 2017

puppets in theatre

i didn't know we had started! hi, welcomeback. today we're going to talk about theater of diversity. when i was firststudying theater and we studied theater history, and theater literature, and thosethings all we ever studied, all we ever learned about was western theater. wetalked about american theater, sometimes we would talk about the french ormaybe the russians, but for the most part all we ever really talked about wherewhat i now call dead white guys. i mean they were the established playwrights,actors, etc, and we got nothing of other cultures and i want you in this seriesto have an understanding of different cultures, different races, differentsexes, other than the dead white guys.

i'm gonna begin my lecture todaytalking about african-american theater. the first african american theater inthe united states was in new york city and it was in 1827. there was a gentleman by the name ofwilliam brown sometimes he is referred to as billy brown.william brown owned a tea shop, and it was a pretty popular hangout at the timeit was a lot like today you know young people going to starbucks you know meettheir friends talk over coffee that's what the tea shops were like in the1800's and browns tea shop was referred to as the african grove. the africangrove was pretty popular, he brought in

entertainers, he loved theater and one ofthe things that he would do at his tea shop the african grove would be to haveactors perform monologues from plays especially the plays of shakespeare, andseveral really good actors began to perform there and it wasn't long untilhe got a second idea, he loved theater so much and he had such talent that hedecided to change the african grove from a tea shop to a theater, and it becameknown as the african grove theater and actors who performed there were referredto as the african company. all these actors were freed slaves, they had comefrom the caribbean or from other states and settled in new yorkcity. one of these actors was a man by

the name of james hewlett, and hewlett was very well known for performing shakespeare another of his actors was agentleman by the name of ira aldridge. also a very very talented actor. well whathappened was they began to perform plays they did shakespeare and the plays wereso good that not just the blacks living in new york came to see them, but whitesas well it became a popular place well they weregonna do a play shakespeare's play richard the third. across town one in one of the white theaters there was a gentleman acting he was an actor manager and hisname was junius brutus booth he's the father of john wilkes booth and edwinbooth junius brutus booth was a star at

time and it just so happened he wasperforming richard the third at the white theater. he did not like the idea that thesefreed slaves were performing shakespeare and especially the play he was doing. hecomplained to the owner of the theater the owner of the theater complained tothe police and the police showed up at the african grove theater and closedthem down. they shut them down supposedly for the fire violations. the theater was unsafe they got the theater reopened they did the thingsthat they were supposed to do and again the police came this time they arrestedthe company they arrested william brown

we know james hewlet was there theyarrested them, they put them in jail and here's the interesting thing, while injail they were told by the police if they signed a paper which when theysigned it they would be promising never to do shakespeare again they would belet free. if they sign a paper saying you won't doshakespeare we'll let you out of jail. some of the actors did not want to dothis and william brown said yes he was going to sign and when asked why he sayswell they didn't say we couldn't do any theater so they did sign the papers theygot out of jail it wasn't long after that that william brown wrote a play andit was called king shotaway

king shot away was the story of acaribbean king and it was performed and unfortunately today we do not have acopy of king shotaway we do know that they did the play there are reviews andthings written about it from newspapers but unfortunately the script hasdisappeared i think that would be a great find if someday and archaeologistsor historian would come across the original play king shotaway but kingshot away is the first play written by an african-american author and his name,william brown. this story is in a current play it's called the african companypresents richard the third. it is a wonderful play and it's written by a gentleman bythe name of carlisle brown. carlisle

brown is professor and playwright and he has written a number of wonderful plays most of his plays deal with african-americanhistory the african company presents richard the third is one of his playsanother of his plays that you should look up and read if you get the chance it's calledthe buffalo hair. buffalo hair is a story about the 10th cavalry and they'refighting against the sioux and it takes place they're sitting around a campfireand the men in the 10th cavalry are discussing whether or not they are onthe right side maybe they should turn and fight with the sioux because whenthey go into town or they are not

treated very well and though they areincredible soldiers and the 10th cavalry was an incredible unit it in the unitedstates army in fact they would show great bravery not only fighting againstthe sioux but they were in the spanish-american war and we're part ofthe soldiers who took san juan hill the 10th cavalry they have this discussion inthe play and they decide that they will do their duty. that they will do what soldier should do they've been orderedinto battle and they bravely go. it's a great play again by carlisle brown. i wantto go back and talk a little bit more about what happened to some of theactors who were in the african company.

james hewlet continued to act because ofthe prejudice against him he couldn't act in the united states so he traveledto other countries and fact we know that he eventually ended up in trinidad andwe know that he performed shakespeare's othello in 1839 in trinidad. we lost,there are lost records of him after that we're not sure where he ended up now iraaldridge on the other hand became an international star, he traveled to europeand he performs shakespeare all over and he was greatly honored in england and inswitzerland and also in poland he received a number of awards he got awhite cross from switzerland a gold medal from pressure and what he died inpoland in 1867 he was honored and he was

buried in a graveyard along with manyother honored artists from around europe and he would receive a plaque also inshakespeare memorial theater stafford-upon-avon in england. though because of their color they could notperform in the united states, we know that they went on and performedelsewhere especially with ira aldridge became an international star after theafrican company there's not a lot of information about african-americantheater in the united states. not until till we get to the nineteen-thirties andduring the great depression one of the programs set up by the rooseveltadministration was what is referred to

as the federal theater project. theidea in the federal theater project was to help create new theaters in areasaround the country where they had none where they needed help and they targeteda number of african-american communities around the country in fact 22 cities gotmoney through the federal theater project to create theaters forafrican-americans the federal theatre project was a wonderful thing givingwork to out of work artists in the united states story of very very hardtime, it eventually died though it went away there was talk at that time ofcreating a national theater we are the only majorcountry in the world that does not have

a national theater and they thought itwas time we should create one and so a federal, through the federal theatreproject national theatre was gonna be created and it would be in washington d.c and i just think this is a funny story the the company got together theydecided to do a play and the first play that they performed was called a cradlewill rock and a cradle will rock was a play that was a satire of the americancongress it performed and that was the that was the end of the of the nationaltheater congress yanked their money and we've never had one since. i've alwaysfound that astounding how we came so close and then the actors involved theartists involved with the hand that fed

them and so today we do not have anational theater. over the years there have been many many incredibleafrican-american artists the first one i want to talk about is an actor and hisname was paul robeson, paul robeson was born in 1898 he was from new jersey,princeton, new jersey and he was extremely intelligent. in 1915 he goes torutgers university. he graduates in 1919 with one of the highest grade pointaverages at the school, he then decided to go to law school and he wants tobecome a lawyer while he is attending school while he's working as a studenthe just found a way to make extra money. you see was a singer and he went and gotwork in harlem at the cotton

club, the cotton club was one of the mostfancy one of the greatest supper clubs in the united states at the time, andpeople from all over white, black, everyone wanted, if they had the money wanted to go to the cotton club because all the greatest performers were gonnabe there, and they wanted to be part of that action, they wanted to see it wasthe hot club of the time, and he performed there he also, "i find this amazing" he alsoplayed for not one, but two different professional football teams. so he'sgoing to law school, he's singing at the cotton club, and he's playingprofessional football for two different

teams. his singing at the cotton club gothim an acting job, there was a playwright named eugene o'neill if you don't knoweugene o'neill look at him up cuz he's he's one of the biggies. eugene o'neillsees paul robeson perform at the cotton club and he approached him andgot him to act in his play, all god's chillun got wings, and that was in 1923 sonow he's a professional actor, he is a singer, he is a football player, and hegraduates from law school, so he's a lawyer. robeson did not stop that oneplay he was in many plays he ends up in the movie business one of his big rolesthat he is still remembered for is he plays joe in showboat and he will beremembered all his life for the role of

joe and singing the song old man river. he finally over time he becomes veryconcerned about civil rights in the united states and he gets involved inthe civil rights movement. he meets dr. king, he takes part in marches, as a lawyerhe helps the naacp and he is not satisfied with just civil rights in theunited states he begins to travel all over the world working for civil rights, for equalrights, if he only did one of those things he would have been a great man.but he did them all and he did them all very well. now i'd like to talk about it

playwright. his name is james baldwin.baldwin was born in harlem, in new york in 1924 he was the oldest of 9 childrenand his father was a minister. baldwin loved reading, apparently spent much of his time as achild in libraries and he had a passion for writing and this led to a conflictwith his father, his father again being a preacher thought that james should follow his footsteps andthat he should become a minister as well, but baldwin did not want to do that hereally wanted to write professionally, and he leaves home he moves to greenwichvillage and he works there as a

freelance writer after a while he leavesthe united states and he goes to paris, and he writes there. he finally ends up in switzerlandwhere his first novel comes out and it's called "go tell it on the mountain" in1954 he writes his first play, and it becomes an immediate hit it's called theamen corner it's a play about faith and family a lot of people believe it'sautobiographical that it's about a young son and his father has been called amasterpiece of the modern american theater is an incredible play, and hefollows that with another play called blues for mr charlie. eventually hebecomes a college professor, he teaches

in the african-american studies programat the university of massachusetts, and continues to write as well as teach buthe developed cancer and he finally leaves the united states he goes tofrance hoping that he can find a cure but he passes away of stomach cancer in1987, but he leaves us with a number of great novels and stories and twoexcellent plays remember james baldwin. the next playwright that i want to talkabout is a female african-american playwright. her name is lorraine hansberrylorraine hansberry was born in 1930 in chicago her family was well off and shelived a wonderful childhood, she goes to college at the university of wisconsinand there she studies art, she has a

dilemma after that because do you stayin art, or do you write? do you do theater? she loved both, well she would continueto do both and do both very well for the rest of her life. in 1953 she moves tonew york city and she begins working on a play, and this play will become one ofthe great american dramas. a raisin in the sun. a raisin in the sun opened thebarrymore theatre in 1959. it's the first african-american play ever be producedon broadway. that's very important to remember. a raisin in the sunthe first african-american play to ever be produced on broadway. it won many many awards and became a play that was performed all across the world it's alovely play its domestic drama, when i

talk about domestic drama, domesticdramas are about family. a lot of television shows are domestic dramas, wealso have domestic comedies, but domestic dramas tend to be realistic in styleand they mix drama and comedy just as happens in real life and in real families. a raisin in the sun is about a youngfamily the father has passed away, he had a insurance policy and he leaves a lotof money to his family. then there is a discussion in the family, and that's whatthis play is about is the family trying to decide what they're gonna do withthis inheritance. we meet the son, the son is a dreamer, he wants to invest themoney some get rich quick scheme, the

daughter who wants the money to helpsupport her endeavors in education, and then there's the wife, and the wifefinally wins out with the argument in the family, and what she decides to dowith the money is she wants to move out of their apartment out to the suburbs, and have a house witha yard. she loves gardening, she wants to plant and she's dreamed of a house witha yard all her life, and after a number of rough spots, i won't go into all thedetails but they finally the family finally agrees to this. a home is purchasedin the suburbs and we discovered that it is in an all-white neighborhood. agentleman shows up at their apartment

who claims to be a representative of the neighborhood he talks to them andsays in their best interest he has come to purchase their home and he will paymore than they paid for it because they really don't want to live in thatneighborhood. the son gets very angry and the rest of the family does too they stand up, they unite together for thefirst time, they all unite together and they tell this man we will be neighbors, andthe play ends with them getting ready to move to the all-white neighborhood. it isa beautiful play it gets performed a lot it has been turned into film one ofthe latest is sean combs playing the son

sidney poitier did the play and itcontinues to be relevant and to play to modern audiences, so don't forgetlorraine hansberry. unfortunately she also got cancer and she passed away at avery young age in 1965. there has been another play it's called to be younggifted and black she actually didn't write the play it's a collection of herpoems and stories and they were put together at the end of her life and itwas turned into a play. but you know if she had never written anything else, shewill always be remembered for a raisin in the sun. the next playwright that i'dlike to talk about is amiri baraka. he's also known as leroy jones

he was born as leroy jones in 1934in newark new jersey he was a mainly a poet he wrote many many poems and duringhis life, he would become the poet laureate of the state of new jersey. heis credited with over 40 books, plays, and they cover a lot of different topics butmost of his work deals with the trials and tribulations of living in the innercity. his plays became very popular in the nineteen sixties and they are filledwith rage. his plays are about living in the inner city about beingafrican-american and about this civil rights, i mean what is what is gonnahappen, where where we gonna go, and he tried to show a really clear portrait ofwhat was taking place in the

african-american community. two plays ofhis that i think you should know, are dutchman and the toilet. you know i know that's a funny name fora play but the toilet is very very powerful when i was a young man iactually acted in that play when i was in college. the toilet deals with gangs, and alsodeals with the problem of being homosexual in an inner-city school all the story basically is, it takesplace in high school bathroom a gang of teens drag body into the bathroom andthey are beating it up, and beating up the

person that they've already been beatinghim up but now they continue to work him over and what we discover is they havelearned that there's a there's a rumor going around that this homosexual is inlove with one of their gang members, and they want to find out who it is and sothey're torturing him it's it's very rough to watch this play i mean theythey really really beat this boy badly. finally he's about ready to speak andone of the gang members goes ballistic and just kicks him and beats him and theybelieve, we are led to believe as audience members that they have killed him, and the gang laughs about this thanks funny that this guy

you know just went ballistic on on theyoung man and they leave the bathroom when this is bloody body laying thereand stall and in walks the man young man who beat this youngstudent to death and he picks up the body and he holds it, and he says i'msorry. then the play ends. it is very brutal, but it's also very touching. hisother play dutchman, which came out in 1963 is a little different, it's about aafrican-american man he seems to be doing well financially he's on a subwaya train, gets on a car in a subway and as the cars is going down the track, andattractive white woman comes over and sits with him and she begins to flirtwith him they begin talking they talked

about a lot of different things andeventually she pulls a knife and kills him. the play doesn't end there, she gets up outof her seat, she moves to another seat next to another black man and she begins thesame conversation over. so it is though the play is rebooted and the exact samething is gonna happen again. so we see this serial killer moving from black man to black mankilling them and no one else on the train seems to pay any attention. it'sagain very powerful, it borders on theater of the absurd it again becausesome of it is not realistic but it is

easy to follow and quite brutal asall his plays are he would eventually changed his name from leroy jones toamiri baraka and he continued to write he started a school in new jersey in theinner city that teaches the arts and amiri baracka i just recently passed away.but he will forever be remembered as a poet and playwright. well let's talkabout another playwright he is a playwright and an artistic director. his name is georgec wolf. feorge c wolf was born in 1954 infrankfort, kentucky. he's with us today, he's a director, as i said, a producera writer and artistic director at the public theater, and bybeing artistic director of the public

theater he's also the artistic directorof the new york shakespeare festival. he went to new york university where he gothis mfa in 1983, and then he began writing. one of his plays is called thecolored museum, it came out in 1986 it's a very interesting play, the setting ismade to look like a museum and the exhibits come alive, and all the exhibitsare african-americans from different times in history. to give you an example what the play is like, it begins with a what looks like an airline stewardess comes out and youknow she's wearing the whole uniform and she gives the speech that you always geton an airplane about tightening your

seat-belts, and in case of an emergencyhere's how you get out except what we learn in this speech is she is talkingabout a slave ship and instead of typing your seatbelts it's tighten your chains, and the play is filled with humor but the humor is very dark. at times when you do see this play youmight laugh at something and then all of a sudden realize, why am i i laughing atthis, this is horrible. it's a very good play, it continues to be produced all over theworld but wolf as i said today is mainly known as an artistic director of thepublic theater. joseph pap who had been the director of the public theater whosaved broadway by bringing in minority

writers, actors, doing plays for the youth,pretty much hand picked george c wolf to follow him when he retired and wolfhas continued that same tradition as a director he brings in they produce playsthat really focus on minorities continue to focus on all sorts of subjects thatother theaters in new york or elsewhere might not want to tackle, and they'vebeen very successful in doing this. one of the playwright's that he discoveredas a young african-american woman named suzan-lori parks, suzan-lori parks onepulitzer prize for her play top dog/ underdog. it's an excellent play, and shecontinues to write new plays. she won the pulitzer in 2002. she won that pulitzerin 2002, and as i said she continues to

write and has become one of america's greatest livingplaywrights. wow it's getting a little warm in here. excuse me. the next playwrite i want to talk about is one of my all-time favorite playwrights his name is august wilson, august wilson is from pittsburgh,pennsylvania he was born in 1945. i don't know if i mentioned this, it's reallyeasy to remember august wilson he's from pittsburgh, pennsylvania and as we allknow pittsburgh is the home of one of the two teams in the nfl that has won 6super bowls and wilson is is from that city thepittsburgh, pennsylvania it's just one of

the cities like i said its just one of the cities that won 6 super bowls the pittsburgh steelers. anyway as i said he was born in 1945, and he became aplaywright starting in 1981, and he went on to write a number of great plays andall the plays deal with african-american history in the city of pittsburgh,pennsylvania the plays are connected but they're about different people at differenttime periods in history in that city. two of his plays won pulitzer prizes. thefirst one was in 1987, and he won the pulitzer prize for his play fences. i'mpretty lucky actually saw fences when

it was on broadway when it first openedand it starred james earl jones. it's a great story about a father and a son againit's another domestic drama the father had played baseball in the old negroleagues and is very bitter that he never got the chance to play in the majorleagues because of the prejudice against his race. his son is getting ready tograduate from high school and he's been offered a scholarship to play football at acollege and the father tells him he will not take that scholarship, and hisreasoning is the white man will use you the way i have been used, if you want tomake it in college you will do it on scholarship not on sports,

and there's a rift in the family. the mother is pretty upset about allthis, and then a bomb is dropped on the family, not are not a real bomb, but awoman shows up with a baby and we discovered that the father is the fatherof the baby and the mother of the family tells troy, her husband, that our sonis going to college is gonna take that scholarship, you have to take care ofthis family but you never sleep with me again, and that's how the play's a powerful piece, very realistic and as i said it won his first pulitzerprize. then does a second play and then a second pulitzer prize is for a playcalled the piano lesson. again about a

family in pittsburgh, and i would lovefor you to watch this film. i'm gonna put the address up here for you to see it, you really needto see the movie version of its very though it's a film, it's very very closeto what you would see if you saw the stage play i want you to see thatbecause it will give you an excellent excellent chance to see a pulitzer prize winningplay and an incredible on domestic drama from one of the world's greatest playwites who is from didn't that i did i mention that he's from pittsburgh,pennsylvania i mentioned that yeah

he's he's from pittsburgh and that's thehome of the pittsburgh steelers, the one nfl team there are only two, who has won sixsuper bowls, just a minor fact just thought id bring that up again.anyway i want you to see the piano lesson it's it's an incredible,incredible play. wilson would pass away and 2005, he was only 60 years oldbut he got liver cancer and unfortunately we lost a great great playwright, but heleft us with 10 plays, again all dealing with the city of pittsburgh, pennsylvania. now we're gonna move on and talk about some world influences that haveaffected american theater, we're going to talk about three different asiancountries, china, india, and japan i'm

going to begin by talking abut indiaindia theater goes way back into time and the one big influence, the one styleof theater that they are famous for is called sanskrit drama, sanskrit drama.sanskrit drama was written for the upper classes very intelligent plays and very literarytalks about heroes and characters from their history from their stories, probably the most famous writers ofsanskrit drama was a gentleman by the name of kalidasa, kalidasa. kalidasa wrote a play called the remembrance of shakuntala, the remembrance ofshakuntala. it was the story about a young

woman she goes through many trials andtribulations, and finally ends up living at the palace, and it is considered oneof the great sanskrit dramas. now let's talk about china, the chinese wrote veryserious plays, and one that i would like you to remember is a place called theromance of the western chamber. it is still performed in china today, it waswritten by playwright named wang shifu, wang shifu in this play, it's a love storyand there is a young man, and there's a young woman they fall deeply in love and then hedecides that he needs to leave her to follow his career and he goes to live inthe palace, and he leaves her behind. it has a very sad ending, and it'sconsidered you know a love tragedy

probably the country that hascontributed the most to theater is japan. japan has a number of traditions intheater the first one that i want to talk about took place in japan around the thirteenhundreds. it is called no theater, what do you mean no, i thought you said that they had theater, yes no theater, no theatre? yes no theater. did they have theatre or not you say that they did but they didn't, no i said they had no theater, they didn't have any theater, noyou idiot they had no theater. well they didn't have theater then why are you saying they had theater, what was it called? no, youre not going to tell me, no. no? yes they call the theater yes theater? no it wasn't yes theater was no theater no

theater? yes. so they called it yes? no. no? yes yes. let's lets just go on, lets talk about bunraku puppetry bunraku theater is puppet theatre itwas very popular in japan, and it still is. in the bunraku the puppets are abouttwo-thirds human size. they're very very very large puppets. and when they performthe puppeteer wears black and you see the puppeteer speaking for the puppet asthey hold the pulpit and and work it and the beauty of the bunraku theater is youforget that the puppeteer is actually

there, you begin to focus on the puppet,and you watch it perform even though the puppeteer is never hidden, they are there inplain sight. we have a bunraku style theater here in the united states thatis done by a company called kids on the block, kids on the block is a wonderful wonderful company they create the scripts they build the puppets andthey leased them to theaters around the united states and in these stories eachof the puppets has a disability. so there's a deaf puppet, there's a blindpuppet, one puppet has cerebral palsy, and the idea is the puppet company kids onthe block is to teach young children that people with disabilities are nodifferent than they are, and that's the

theme in all their stories. they actuallysing a song kids are different kids aren't different, they are the same as as you and me. so it continues and bunraku is spread across the country. we see bunraku style puppets on broadway, irecently saw shrek the musical and there's a bunraku style puppet used inthat production, so though it began in japan and continues to be performed injapan bunraku style puppets are now performed in many places around theworld. the last japanese theater that i'd like to talk about is kabuki, kabukitheater started in the sixteen hundreds and in kabuki the actors are trainedfrom childhood, so if you are going to be

a performer in the kabuki theater you'rebrought in as a child and you work on that style performance for years andyears and years. in the kabuki theater even today, only men perform. men play allthe roles. it is very stylized in kabuki they they use very large gestures andthe stories tend to be again tragic in nature though they can becomic and they tell the stories that have passed down through generations injapan. i have actually done some training in kabuki theater it's it's wonderful towork on, there have productions in the united states that have used kabukistyle acting, there was a wonderful production of the scottishplay, macbeth few years back that was

done all in kabuki style. so its stillwith us, it's very popular in japan, but that style of acting is now being usedand adapted into other theaters all across the world. let's talk about itcontemporary, he is a chinese american playwright his name is david henry hwang. davidhenry hwang has been writing plays since the nineteen eighties here in the unitedstates, and he's considered now one of our great playwrights. probably his mostfamous play is called m. butterfly. m. butterfly won the pulitzer prize in in this play talks about chinese history and it is the story of a britishdiplomat serving in china who goes to see the peking opera and falls madly inlove with the female lead. of course as the

play continues we discover, and hediscovers, that the female lead of course is a man since all the men play all theleading roles, or play all the roles and it's a powerful play, as i said it wonthe pulitzer prize in 1989. hwang continues to write and he will beremembered for many many years to come for the plays that he has written. let's move on to hispanic theater there's a strong theatrical tradition in spain duringthe time that shakespeare was writing tragedies in england there was a spanishtragic playwrite named lope de vega. de vega wrote many plays, he livedbetween 1562 and 1635 his most famous place called the sheep well. it's a verypowerful tragedies about a village in

spain that is being attacked by a gangof ruffians the men in the town do not stand up to these people the women do and the main character inthe play is a young woman who ends up being beaten, raped, and when the ruffiansfinally leave she turns to her father and the other elders of the city and ornot city, it's a little village, and tells them that they are nothing but sheep. extremely powerful play. lope de vegasupposedly wrote many plays, well not all of them have survived but thesheep well is his one big hit which still gets performed today. there area number of contemporary hispanic

american plays and play-writes. there arebasically three types of hispanic theater in the united states today theyare chicano theater, cuban-american theater, and puerto-ricantheater. chicano theater comes from mexico and the father of chicanotheater is a gentleman by the name of luis valdez is a directorand playwright he has written a number of plays the fall in this category ofchicano theater. a lot of his plays deal with the plights of farmworkers they tell thestories of immigrants who have come to the united states frommexico, and of the trials and tribulations that they go throughworking on the farms around the united

states. these plays started in thenineteen sixties, and they are still with us. puerto rican theater is also verypopular, in fact a lot of puerto rican theaters have been helped through thepublic theater in new york, again public theater's mission is to helpminorities and since there is a very large puerto-rican population in new yorkcity a theater was started there, and they're called that porter ricantraveling theater. the puerto rican traveling theater, their mission is to introduce toamerican audiences new hispanic

playwrights not everything they do isdone by puerto rican writers but by hispanic writers from all over the worldand certainly from united states. this company has its own theater, they performat that theater, and as their name suggests they tour productions aroundnew york and around the united states. the cuban-american theater is mostly inflorida and they got a big boost from the federal theatre project in thenineteen thirties where some of these theaters began. today the most famous ofthe cuban american playwrights is a woman named maria irene fornes. maria irene fornes she has written a number of plays overthe years the play fefu and her

friends is one of her most popular's a story of a woman named fefu and a group of women come to her home, herfriends and they talked about many different subjects during their staywith fefu. mrs fornes is not only known not only as a cuban-american writer, but she's alsoknown for her feminist plays she's still with us and still creating wonderfulpowerful pieces dealing with women and dealing with the cuban-americancommunity. let's move on now and we're going to talk about native americanstheater. now we know from studying history native americans have had music andacted out stories about their ancestors and their gods for thousands of years.there are some native american theater

companies today and there have certainlybeen a number of plays written about native americans probably the mostfamous native american playwrite who also wrote some film, was a gentlemannamed rollie lynn riggs. rolly lynn riggs. riggs was born in 1899 he was a cherokeeindian, and he died in 1954 his most famous play is called green grow thelilacs. green grow the lilacs tells a story that takes place in oklahoma and it was this story, this play, thatrodgers and hammerstein took and then re-wrote into the musical oklahoma. butrolly lynn riggs did write other plays, and but he is most famous for green growthe lilacs. one area i haven't talked about

is mid eastern islamic theater. there isa tradition in the middle east countries, it goes back thousands of years. theybasically do two types of plays. one type is the passion play. passionplays are plays deal with the religion. these plays often tellthe stories of the prophets, and as i said they've been performed for many years, and they remain popular in the mideast. the other type of theaterthat they do and have done in the mideast are shadow plays. shadow plays are a form of puppet theater, and i'm gonna show you an example of a shadow playhere in just a moment. these shadow plays or shadows of fancy are performed a lotof times around religious festivals,

especially ramadan. one of the mostfamous of the shadow play playwrights was a gentleman by the name of muhammad ibn daniyal. muhammad ibn daniyal he was writing plays during the 13thcentury. his place tend to be comedies. some of them are quite baudy. in fact he'sbeen compared to the greek playwright aristotle who wrote comedies. his plays,again the shadow plays are puppet plays. muhammad ibn daniyal was from saudiarabia, and he traveled to egypt and that's where he did most of his writing. i want to show you as i said, an example of what a shadow play would looklike and we'll go to that right now. i would now like to talk about three famous womenplaywrights. the first is aphra behn. she

is considered the first professionalwoman playwright in england. she lived from 1640 to 1689. so she comes along duringthe restoration in england when in 1660 women are first allowed act on stage, andthey are now allowed to write plays. she wrote 16 plays during her lifetime. themost famous of these plays is a play called the rover, the rover deals there'sthree storylines about a group of englishmen who are in naples duringcarnival and it still gets produced though we have some trouble with theplay now because one of the so-called comic scenes in the play deals with arape, a woman gets raped and that is hard for modern audiences as youwell know to find funny. though you know

in that time in the restoration periodwas considered a hilarious comedy but as i said the rover is still produced andaphra behn is been rediscovered and a lot of her plays are now being producedthat for many years were not because we had focused on the men who wrote in therestoration. i think its wonderful that we're now getting to see aphra behnbeing performed. some other american writers that i would like you to know. thefirst is lillian hellman. lillian hellman is a playwright she was born in 1905. sheroute number of what are considered great american plays, the one that iwould like to talk about is her play the children's hour. it premiered in 1934.

it's the story of two young women theystart a school for girls in the small town, it is met with success, they have anumber of young women studying at their school and one of the young girls getsangry at the two women who are running the school and she starts a rumor, andthe rumor spreads, and the rumor is that they are lesbian lovers. the two women all of a sudden withoutany warning, students are being pulled from their school no one in thecommunity will talk to them they become isolated the one woman her fiancequestions her, wants to know if this is the truth and she tells him if he has toask she does not want to be with him,

and he leaves her which adds to thetragedy going on there at the home, and finally at the end of the play the onewoman goes has a wonderful speech, talks about maybe it is true idon't know, and she walks off stage she goes to her room and then we hear agunshot. she commits suicide so it's a tragic play but a very powerfulplay that still to this day speaks to our time. as do many of the plays thatlillian hellman wrote. she would pass away in 1984, but will always beremembered for her powerful plays one of the things i neglected to say about theplay the children's hour, one of the things that she became involved in was veryworried about was the anti-communist

movement in the united states manyplaywrights, and then later many people in the film industry many actors became blackballed because they were thought tohave ties with communists lillian hellman fought against this injusticefor many years, and that is one of the themes in the children's hour, all itwould take is a rumor, and a person's career could be ruined. they didn't have toprove it, and that was one of the things that she wanted to show. the playthe children's hour. the next playwright that i'd like to talk about is one of myfavorites it is a lady named beth henley. beth henley isfrom mississippi she was born in 1952.

she's still alive and still writinggreat plays. in 1978 she wins a pulitzer prize for her play crimes of theheart. what i like about mrs. henly is almost all her plays are tragic comedy. they'requirky, the characters are very quirky and since she writes lot of plays abouther hometown, hazlehurst mississippi many people in that town today tremble every time she writes a play forfear that they or some member of their family might be in one of her plays. she changesthe names but every time she writes a play somebody's trying to figure out if they or someone they know might be the model for one of the characters inthe play. in her pulitzer prize-winning

play crimes of the heart it's aboutthree sisters who live in this small town, and one of the sisters were when theplay begins the youngest sister, has been convicted of trying to murder herhusband. her husband wants to have her committed to an insane asylum and she'svery worried about this, and course she has hired a lawyer and she's tryingto fight that. the reason the husband she tried to kill her husband was because hediscovered that she was having an affair with a young african-american boy, andshe thinks it's this is unfair. like i said they are very quirkycharacters she's also having problems dealing with the fact that her mother hasrecently committed suicide and there was

a lot of press about the suicide becausenot only did she hang herself, that she hung her cat with her. at one point inthe play, sissy the young sister discovers the reason for this and shesays "oh i know why mama didn't, why she killed that cat people thought she wasbeing mean, but no she wasn't being mean, she was just scared about going to theafterlife, and she wanted to have her favorite cat with her". the other twosisters, one pretends that she's a country music star, and she's returned totown, and she's not a country music star. and the third sister is afraid to getmarried because she feels that she has defective ovaries, and that worries her. it's a charming play. again some of it is

very funny, other parts quite seriousas we follow these three sisters on their adventures. besides crimes of theheart she's written another many other plays, the miss firecracker contestanother one of her plays it was turned into a film, and many more. i said three playwrights, but another onethat you should probably know is wendy wasserstein another american playwrightjewish-american playwright, she won the pulitzer prize of drama in 1989 for herplay the heidi chronicles. the heidi chronicles. unfortunately mrs. wasserstein passed away in 2006due to cancer but her plays are still

with us, and are performed often aroundthe united states, and around the world. well that ends my lecture on theater ofdiversity, i hope you've enjoyed learning about many different types ofplays and playwrights from around the world, from other cultures and i hopethat you will go out and read these plays, go see these plays, learn moreabout them because there is a rich treasure trove of material out therethat unfortunately we don't often get to see. anyway, that's it for today and i'llsee you next time.

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