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Funnyhouse of a Negro

Funnyhouse of a Negro
Your Price: $14.95 CDN
Author: Adrienne Kennedy
Publisher: Samuel French
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 28
Pub. Date: 2011
ISBN-10: 0573621667
ISBN-13: 9780573621666

About the Play:

Funnyhouse of a Negro is a full-length drama by Adrienne Kennedy. Sarah, a young black woman in the 1960s, struggles to accept her own mixed racial background. Adrienne Kennedy's partially autobiographical play explores the psychological trauma of race and identity in America that is amazingly salient today over 50 years after her Obie award for this work.

Funnyhouse of a Negro presents the fragmented identity of its central character called Negro Sarah. She is a young African American college student who loathes the dark skin of her father and is obsessive about her features and the texture of her hair. She believes she was conceived when her father raped her white mother. We see inside Sarah's reality in her one-room apartment in New York's Greenwich Village where has created four different personas as a way to grapple with her own self-hatred. She talks to her multiple selves who are famous people of history: Jesus, The Duchess of Hapsburg, Queen Victoria, and assassinated Congo leader Patrice Lumumba. With these four characters at her side, Sarah tries to make sense of her conception, her life without her parents, and the creeping insanity that she feels all around her. As Sarah's mind twists and turns between reality and fantasy, the audience walks through the funnyhouse of her mind to experience her violent rejection of her blackness and a toxic engagement with whiteness that leads to a point of no return in this an absurdist examination of racial identity. Funnyhouse of a Negro was written when the civil rights movement was gaining momentum in the US, and meeting with a corresponding increase in violence and repression from the state. It has become one of the most studied of Adrienne Kennedy's plays.

Funnyhouse of a Negro premiered in 1964 at the East End Theater off-Broadway in New York City. This play brought her the first of her
three Obie Awards and led to Rockefeller grants, a Guggenheim Fellowship and an honorary doctorate from her alma mater. Performed by colleges worldwide, this landmark play speaks to students trying to find a place in the world.

Cast: 5 female, 3 male

What people say:

"Funnyhouse of a Negro, Adrienne Kennedy's 1964 one-act play set, essentially, inside the head of a disturbed young black woman named Sarah, catches perfectly that moment in time when the struggle could have gone either way: black identity might have been erased, or it might have reasserted itself." — The New York Times

"I bet you won't see anything so fearlessly weird and original all year. I don't know if Beyoncé is familiar with Kennedy's work, but Funnyhouse plays like a hard-core retort to the self-empowerment poetics of Lemonade. That Funnyhouse came half a century earlier hardly even matters." — TimeOut New York

"It was so thrilling for me to experience the lyrical dialogue of Adrienne Kennedy, whom I'd known only through reading." — The New York Times

About the Playwright:

Adrienne Kennedy is an African-American playwright, lecturer, and author. A seminal writer of the Black Arts Movement, she has been a force in American theatre since the early 1960s. She is a three-time Obie-award winning playwright whose works have been widely performed and anthologized. A recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters award and the Guggenheim fellowship, among many other awards, she has been a visiting professor at Yale, Princeton, Brown, the University of California at Berkeley, and Harvard. She was inducted into The Theater Hall of Fame in 2018.

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