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March 12, 2021

Plays with Great Roles for Black Female Actors


A tenacious Harlem pastor. An assimilated Zimbabwean American woman and her traditional Zimbabwean sister. A passionate inner city public school teacher. A Jamaican American mother facing a fatal illness. An award-winning American playwright. Four brilliant Harvard grads; a surgeon, an actress, a psychologist, and a neuropsychiatrist.

Explore a wide variety of plays featuring compelling roles created specifically for Black female actors.

Ain’t No Mo’ by Jordan E. Cooper (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Comedy / 4f, 2m)
Through a blend of sketch, satire, avant-garde theatre and a dose of drag, this unpredictable comedy answers the incendiary question: What if the United States government offered Black Americans one-way plane tickets to Africa?

The Amen Corner by James Baldwin (US/UK)
(Drama / 9f, 5m)
James Baldwin’s first play, about the female pastor of a Harlem church in 1954, grapples with issues of racism, poverty, and the role of the church in the lives of Black Americans.

American Son by Christopher Demos-Brown (US/UK)
(Drama / 1f, 3m)
An estranged biracial couple must confront their feelings about race and bias after their son is detained by the local police following a traffic stop incident.

Bullet Hole by Gloria Williams (UK)
(Drama / 3f)
Young Londoner Cleo was given her ‘gift’ at age seven – except that ‘gift’ left her with type 3 Female Mutilation. Finding strength after this hideous act, Cleo resolves to go against her family’s wishes and seek reversal surgery. On her journey of healing, she’s sent to live with Aunt Winnie and meets Eve, a fellow FGM survivor who is instantly drawn to her.

Bulrusher by Eisa Davis (US)
(Drama / 3f, 3m)
In 1955, in the redwood country north of San Francisco, a multiracial girl grows up in a predominantly white town whose residents pepper their speech with the historical dialect of Boontling. Passionate, lyrical, and chock full of down-home humor, Bulrusher is an unforgettable experience by a new, thrilling voice.

Cadillac Crew by Tori Sampson (US/UK)
(Drama / 4f)
On the eve of an important speech by Rosa Parks, four women working in a Virginia civil rights office celebrate, argue, plan and commiserate as they plot a course for desegregation and women’s rights.

cullud wattah by Erika Dickerson-Despenza (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Drama / 5f)
Part call to action, part domestic drama, cullud wattah blends form and bends time to explore the poisonous effects of the Flint water crisis on a multigenerational family of Black women.

Detroit ‘67 by Dominique Morisseau (US/UK)
(Drama / 3f, 2m)
Morisseau’s powerful play unfolds an explosive moment in our history – the race riots that ravaged the city of Detroit in 1967 – set to a vibrant soundtrack of the day’s music.

Dot by Colman Domingo (US/UK)
(Dramatic Comedy / 3f, 4m)
This twisted and hilarious new play grapples unflinchingly with aging parents, midlife crises, and the heart of a West Philly neighborhood.

Everybody’s Ruby by Thulani Davis (US)
(Drama / 4f, 10m)
This hard-hitting and intense drama, a sensation Off-Broadway, is based on a murder that took place in a small Florida town in 1952.

False Creeds by Darren Canady (US/UK)
(Drama / 4f, 2m)
After his grandmother leaves him a “memory box” containing photos and journals related to the Tulsa race massacre, a young man witnesses his family’s history through the eyes of his grandmother as a young girl.

Familiar by Danai Gurira (US/UK)
(Comedy / 5f, 3m)
Marvelous and Donald, Zimbabwean emigrants in Minnesota, prepare for the marriage of their eldest daughter, Tendi, but their house is turned upside down when Marvelous’ sister comes from Zimbabwe to perform a very traditional wedding ceremony in which the groom barters for the bride.

Fat Ham by James Ijames (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Dramatic Comedy / 3f, 4m)
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright James Ijames reinvents Shakespeare’s Hamlet with this delectable comic tragedy, in which an uproarious family barbecue becomes a compelling examination of love and loss through the eyes of a self-aware young Black man.

Feeding Beatrice by Kirsten Greenidge (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Dramatic Comedy / 2f, 2m)
This spine-chilling gothic tale, about a contemporary Black couple haunted by the ghost of a young white girl, deftly explores questions of race, class and the American Dream. June and Lurie have a haunting new houseguest – and she’s ravenously hungry.

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange (US/UK)
(Drama / 7f)
This groundbreaking “choreopoem” is a spellbinding collection of vivid prose and free verse narratives about and performed by Black women.

Funnyhouse of a Negro by Adrienne Kennedy (US)
(Drama / 5f, 3m)
Adrienne Kennedy’s Obie-winning play is a modern classic about Sarah, a young black student living in New York City, and her search for her identity in a very complex, warring and fractured world.

Harriet Jacobs by Lydia R. Diamond (US/UK)
(Drama / 4f, 4m, 1 girl, 1 boy)
Harriet Jacobs
explores with brutal honesty the hardships one woman endures under slavery, including the extraordinary choices she makes to be near her children. Accompanied by the rich musical traditions of slave spirituals, the play is an inspiring look at a young woman’s fascinating journey from slavery to freedom.

Hoard by Bim Adewunmi (UK)
(Full-Length Play, Comedy / 4f, 1m)
is the story of one close-knit Nigerian family and old hurts that resurface over the course of one evening.

How Black Mothers Say I Love You by Trey Anthony (US/UK)
(Dramatic Comedy / 4f)
Hardworking Daphne left her two young daughters in Jamaica for six years to create a better life for them in America. Now, thirty years later, proud and private Daphne is relying on church and her dutiful daughter to face a health crisis. But the arrival of feisty activist Claudette stirs up the buried past, waking family ghosts and the burning desire for unconditional love.

If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka by Tori Sampson (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Dramatic Comedy / 5f, 2m, 1 any gender)
Combining West African folklore and contemporary American culture, this dramatic comedy follows four teenage girls as they grapple with societal definitions of beauty. In fictional Affreakah-Amirrorkah, the girls are given an opportunity to live where their individual beauty can reign supreme. But this opportunity comes at a dangerous cost. 

Is God Is by Aleshea Harris (US/UK)
(Dramatic Comedy / 4f, 4m)
Is God Is
is a modern myth about twin sisters who sojourn from the Dirty South to the California desert to exact righteous revenge. Winner of the 2016 Relentless Award, Aleshea Harris collides the ancient, the modern, the tragic, the Spaghetti Western, and Afropunk in this darkly funny and unapologetic world premiere.

The Light by Loy A. Webb (US/UK)
(Drama / 1f, 1m)
A surprise proposal gift puts the future of Genesis and Rashad’s relationship at risk when they are forced to confront a devastating secret from the past. The Light is a 70-minute, real-time roller-coaster ride of laughter, romance, and despair that uncovers how the power of radical love can be a healing beacon of light.

Long Time Since Yesterday by P.J. Gibson (US)
(Drama / 8f)
Set in suburban New Jersey in the early 1980’s, this potent drama is about a reunion of former college classmates, now in their thirties, at the funeral of a friend who killed herself. A literate, humorous, sensitive look at the lives of contemporary Black women, this play features wonderful roles for female actors.

August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (US/UK)
(Drama / 2f, 8m)
It’s 1927 and Ma Rainey, the “Mother of the Blues,” is recording new sides of old favorites in a rundown studio in Chicago. Fiery and determined, Ma Rainey fights to retain control over her music in August Wilson’s riveting portrayal of rage, racism, self-hatred and exploitation.

Marie and Rosetta by George Brant (US/UK)
(Dramatic Comedy / 2f)
Bringing fierce guitar playing and swing to gospel music, Sister Rosetta Tharpe was a legend in her time and a huge influence on Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix and Ray Charles. Marie and Rosetta chronicles her first rehearsal with a young protégée, Marie Knight, as they prepare to embark on a tour that would establish them as one of the great duos in musical history.

Milk Like Sugar by Kristen Greenidge (US/UK)
(Drama / 5f, 2m)
On Annie Desmond’s sixteenth birthday, she and her friends enter into a life-altering pact. When Annie tries to make good on her promise, she is forced to take a good look at the world that surrounds her, propelling her onto an irreversible path in this story that combines wit, poetry, and hope.

The Niceties by Eleanor Burgess (US/UK)
(Drama / 2f)
Zoe, a Black student at a liberal arts college, is called into her white professor’s office to discuss her paper about slavery’s effect on the American Revolution. What begins as a polite clash in perspectives explodes into an urgent debate about race, history, and power.

Pipeline by Dominique Morisseau (US/UK)
(Drama / 3f, 3m)
Nya, an inner-city public high school teacher, is committed to her students but desperate to give her only son Omari opportunities they’ll never have. When a controversial incident at his upstate private school threatens to get him expelled, Nya must confront his rage and her own choices as a parent.

Proposals by Neil Simon (US)
(Comedy / 4f, 5m)
This elegiac memory play delightfully recalls the last time the Hines family gathered at their retreat in the Poconos. In the summer of 1953, Clemma, the housekeeper at the center of the action, casts an astute eye on the family’s complications while reckoning with her own unresolved past.

Race by David Mamet (US)
(Drama / 1f, 3m)
In a provocative new tale of sex, guilt and bold accusations, two lawyers find themselves defending a wealthy white executive charged with raping a black woman. When a new legal assistant gets involved in the case, deep-seated opinions explode to the surface, dangerous truths are revealed, and no punches are spared.

The Revolving Cycles Truly and Steadily Roll’d by Jonathan Payne (US/UK)
(Drama / 5f, 4m)
Karma’s foster brother, Terrell, has gone missing, and she’s trying to find him amidst the inner city chaos that is The Oblong – but his teacher can’t remember his name, his foster mom is still cashing his reimbursement checks, and his ex is glad he’s gone.

Shebeen by Mufaro Makubika (UK)
(Drama / 4f, 5m)
It’s a hot and humid summer in 1958 St Ann’s, Nottingham. Jamaican couple Pearl and George are helping Caribbean migrants to cut loose by hosting a forbidden party at their shebeen. As tensions mount on a night filled with rum, calypso and dancing, and with the shebeen under threat from the police, everyone is forced to confront the uncomfortable truths their relationships are built upon.

Single Black Female by Lisa B. Thompson (US/UK)
(Dramatic Comedy / 2f)
This two-woman show with rapid-fire comic vignettes explores the lives of thirty-something African American middle-class women in urban America as they search for love, clothes, and dignity in a world that fails to recognize them amongst a parade of stereotypical images.

Slave Play by Jeremy O. Harris (US/UK)
(Dramatic Comedy / 4f, 4m)
The Old South lives on at the MacGregor Plantation—in the breeze, in the cotton fields… and in the crack of the whip. Nothing is as it seems, and yet everything is as it seems. Slave Play rips apart history to shed new light on the nexus of race, gender and sexuality in 21st century America.

Smart People by Lydia R. Diamond (US/UK)
(Dramatic Comedy / 2f, 2m)
Four of Harvard’s brightest; a surgeon, an actress, a psychologist, and a neuro-psychiatrist, are all interested in different aspects of the brain, particularly how it responds to race. But like all smart people, they are also searching for love, success, and identity in their own lives.

Steal Away by Ramona King (US)
(Drama / 6f)
Set in Chicago during the Depression, this farce is the story of five upstanding church ladies who raise funds to send young Black women to college by holding bake sales and the like. Their latest beneficiary, Tracyada, has more ambitious ideas; she convinces them all to rob a bank.

Stew by Zora Howard (US/UK)
(Dramatic Comedy / 4f)
In this compelling comedy-drama, three generations of Black women banter and bicker as they prepare for a feast. Tensions simmer with all the Tucker women under one roof, but things come to a boil when external violence invades Mama’s kitchen.

Stick Fly by Lydia R. Diamond (US)
(Dramatic Comedy / 3f, 3m)
The affluent African American LeVay family is gathering at their Martha’s Vineyard home for the weekend, and brothers Kent and Flip have each brought their respective ladies home to meet the parents for the first time. As the two newcomers butt heads over issues of race and privilege, long-standing family tensions bubble under the surface and reach a boiling point when secrets are revealed.

The Glorious World of Crowns, Kinks and Curls by Keli Goff (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Drama / 3f)
In the tradition of The Vagina Monologues and For Colored Girls, this collection of monologues and scenes features Black women from around the globe recalling unforgettable moments in their lives in which their hair took center stage. 

The Mamalogues by Lisa B. Thompson (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Comedy / 3f)
During a single mother’s retreat, three women share their angst about racial profiling on the playground, their child being the “only one” at their school, and the politics of soccer in the hood. The satirical comedy follows the agonies and joys of motherhood as these moms guide children from diapers to college in a dangerous world. 

The Submission by Jeff Talbott (US/UK)
(Dramatic Comedy / 1f, 3m)
When white playwright Danny Larsen’s new play about an alcoholic Black mother and her son, written under the pseudonym “Shaleeha G’ntamobi,” is accepted into a prestigious play festival, lies pile up, shaky alliances are forged, and everyone dear to Danny must decide whether or not to run for cover as the whole thing threatens to blow up in his lily-white face.

To Be Young, Gifted and Black by Lorraine Hansberry (US)
(Drama / 5f, 3m)
A long-running success of the 1968/69 off-Broadway season, this fast-paced, powerful, touching and hilarious kaleidoscope of constantly shifting scenes and images recreates the world of a great American woman and artist, Lorraine Hansberry.

Wedding Band by Alice Childress (US)
(Drama / 8f, 3m)
It is the summer of 1918 in South Carolina; the growing attraction between Julie, an African American seamstress, and Herman, the white man that has kept company with her for years, accelerates into an affair. They must, of course, deal with the prejudices and wrath of ignorance in early 20th century America.

What to Send Up When It Goes Down by Aleshea Harris (US/UK)
(Drama / 4f, 4m)
As lines between characters and actors – as well as observers and observed – blur, a dizzying series of vignettes builds to a climactic moment in which performance and reality collide, highlighting the absurdity of anti-Blackness in our society. Through facilitation and dialogue we must decide how to cope, resist, and move forward.

Where We Stand by Donnetta Lavinia Grays (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Drama / 1 any gender)
In a town running low on compassion, an exile seeks forgiveness, forcing the community to decide between mercy or justice. The storyteller spins a tale of a lonely soul tempted by the devil’s kindness on a fateful trip to the crossroads.

Wildlife! By Ramona King (US)
(Drama / 7f, 2 girls)
A unique story of seven ordinary non-enslaved women accused of murder, who escaped, kidnapped and fought to ultimately give their lives for the future of a little girl.

To learn more about these plays and other titles, visit the Concord Theatricals website in the US or UK.

Header Image: 2017 Lincoln Center Theater production of Pipeline (Jeremy Daniel)