SLP vs. Cleage

In a rare event Eclipse has featured not one but two playwrights during its 2007 season: Pearl Cleage and Suzan Lori Parks. Both prolific African American writers – let’s take a moment and take a quick peek at each author.

Pearl Cleage

Born: December 7, 1948 in Springfield, Massachusetts but was raised primarily in Detroit, Michigan

Education: attended Howard University, graduated from Spelman with a BA in drama

Early Career: Worked as the press secretary for Maynard Jackson, the first black mayor of Atlanta, as well as writing for several Atlanta based newspapers. Burst into the public eye when her first novel What Looks like Crazy on an Ordinary Day was featured on Oprah Book Club.

Dominant Thematic Material: Issues of black life, sex, drugs, and pregnancy primarily centered on black youth while presenting mature perspectives on coming to grips with good and bad life choices.

Quote: “I’m just saying I thought that was what black writers were supposed to do. Tell the truth to the people.”

Suzan Lori Parks

Born: 1964 in Fort Knox, KY, moved a lot as a child, went to high school in Germany

Education: BA in English and German literature from Mount Holyoke College

Early Career: Came into the New York scene early as her first plays were produced only four years after graduating from Mount Holyoke.

Dominant Thematic Material: Centered around creating a more Afrocentric writing, searching for a place for African Americans in the Eurocentric realm of American literature. Incredible focus on play on words, feelings music through the words.

Quote: “I am most interested in time and how people pass through it…A by product of time is history-what is remembered, recorded and transported into the next age. History-the destruction and creation of it through theatre pieces and how Black people fit into all of this is my primary artistic concern.”


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