Bourbon at the Border dramaturgical research

II. Pearl’s Works

Selected Discography
-Recordings and Videotapes: A Nation of Poets (recording), 1990
-We Who Believe in Freedom: A Gathering Around the Urban Campfire (video), 1996.

Plays (location and year of original production)
Hymn for the Rebels, Howard University, 1968
Duet for Three Voices, Howard University, 1969
The Sale, Spelman College, 1972
puppetplay, Just Us Theater, Atlanta, 1981
Hospice, New Federal Theater, Off- Broadway, New York City, 1983
Good News, Just US Theater, Atlanta, 1984
Essentials, Just US Theater, Atlanta, 1985
Porch Songs, Phoenix Theater, Indianapolis, IN, 1985
Banana Bread (television play), WPBA, Atlanta, 1985
Come and Get These Memories, Billie Holiday Theater, Brooklyn, NY, 1987
Flyin’ West, Alliance Theater Company, Atlanta, 1992
Chain, Women’s Project and Productions and the New Federal Theater, Off-Broadway, -New York City, 1992
Late Bus to Mecca, Women’s Project and Productions and the New Federal Theater, Off-Broadway, New York City, 1992
Blues for an Alabama Sky, Alliance Theater Company, Atlanta, 1995
Bourbon at the Border, Alliance Theater Company, Atlanta, 1997

Kenny Leon, artistic director for Alliance Theatre, has collaborated with Cleage on Blues for an Alabama Sky (1995), Flyin’ West (1992) and Bourbon at the Border (1997). Blues for an Alabama Sky was performed in Atlanta as part of the 1996 Cultural Olympiad in conjunction with the 1996 Olympic Games. 

Flyin’ West was one of the most produced plays in the country during the 1992-1993 season. See also “Dimensions of Pearl Cleage’s Flyin’ West“, published in Theatre Topics.

Performance Pieces (written and performed by Pearl Cleage)
-The Jean Harris Reading, 1981
-The Pearl and the Vipers, 1981
-Nothin’ But a Movie, 1982

We Don’t Need No Music (poetry), 1971
Dear Dark Faces (poetry), 1980
One for the Brothers (chapbook), 1983
Mad at Miles: A Blackwoman’s Guide to Truth (essays), 1990
The Brass Bed and Other Stories (fiction), 1991
Deals with the Devil: And Other Reasons to Riot (essays), 1991
Dreamers and Dealmakers: An Insider’s Guide to the Other Atlanta Games (non-fiction), 1996
-What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day (fiction), 1997
I Wish I had a Red Dress (fiction), 2001
-Some Things I Thought I’d Never Do (fiction), 2003
Babylon Sisters (fiction), 2005
Baby Brother’s Blues (fiction), 2006

In the essay collection Deals with the Devil and Other Reasons to Riot (1993), she discusses sexism and domestic abuse.  Of particular interest in this nonfiction volume is a section entitled “Mad at Miles” (previously in a self-published volume, Mad at Miles: A Blackwoman’s Guide to Truth, 1990) in which she criticizes jazz musician Miles Davis for brutality to women and draws parallels to abusive male behavior in everyday relationships.  Among other topics, she also writes about the controversial hearings for Clarence Thomas’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court as well as the controversies sparked by film director Spike Lee and his work.

In I Wish I Had a Red Dress (2001) Cleage returns to the characters from Crazy, focusing on the challenges modern-day black women face. 

Some Things I Thought I’d Never Do (2003) portrays utopian black Atlanta neighborhoods in pragmatic terms.  Her trademark readable style that imparts a sense of immediacy is in evidence, as are characters that are flawed yet generous, sharing an Atlanta community’s hopes and desires.  Cleage highlights Atlanta landmarks.  Using political themes Cleage addresses some of the same issues found in earlier works while grappling with newer ones, including reactions to the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.  Continuing the inspirational, idealistic, and spiritual themes she explored in Red Dress, Cleage weaves in the themes of mysticism and reincarnation in Some Things

What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day (1997): Oprah Book Club selection and appeared on the New York Times best seller list for nine weeks.  This publishing brought her works more prominently to the nation’s attention.  In particular Cleage focuses on the issues of sex, drugs, and pregnancy, aiming to keep her message centered on black youth while presenting mature perspectives on coming to grips with good and bad life choices.

E. Lynn Harris: Pearl Cleage’s wonderful new novel, Babylon Sisters, shows a writer at the top of her game, managing to weave together the eternal dance of mothers and daughters, a timeless love story, rich friendships, and international politics into a fast-paced Atlanta saga with an unforgettable villain and a thrilling climax that leave us cheering. Pearl has once again given us a book filled with folks who are so real we think we know them, or wish we did.

Baby Brother’s Blues is a novel about family, love and loyalty, sometimes leading the reader to the darker side of life.


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2 Responses

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