Essay about The Development of Black Playwright

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Black theater is as old as the first tribes in Africa who would dance with wooden masks to represent gods or legends (Kerr, p3). The playwrights of this time were the Griots, who were known as the keepers of history in African tribes and mark the beginning of African literary tradition (Freeman.) But when does the development of black playwright actually take off? The first black playwright in history is Terence Afer, who was born around 159 BC (Arnott). He was taken to Rome as a slave, and because he impressed his master, was given a liberal education and as much freedom as a slave could have. Terence managed to produce six plays in his life which were the base for modern comedy of manners (Arnott). Terence’s literary career was …show more content…
Black theater is as old as the first tribes in Africa who would dance with wooden masks to represent gods or legends (Kerr, p3). The playwrights of this time were the Griots, who were known as the keepers of history in African tribes and mark the beginning of African literary tradition (Freeman.) But when does the development of black playwright actually take off? The first black playwright in history is Terence Afer, who was born around 159 BC (Arnott). He was taken to Rome as a slave, and because he impressed his master, was given a liberal education and as much freedom as a slave could have. Terence managed to produce six plays in his life which were the base for modern comedy of manners (Arnott). Terence’s literary career was deciphered from the collection of his own prologues, commentary of his plays written by Aelius Donatus, and the writings of a Roman biographer named Suetonius. After Terence, the history of playwrights of color have been lost or not kept up with consistently enough to get much from. The first section of history where the development of black playwright really takes hold is between the years of 1820 and 1930, in the country of the United States. This was the century when African Americans fought for freedom and equal rights. The major figureheads who developed and moved black playwright forward were William Wells Brown, Angelina Weld Grimke, Willis Richardson, Alain Leroy Locke, James Baldwin, Langston Hughes and Lorraine Hansberry.
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