Thursday, November 3, 2016

DANAI GURIRA, A PLAYWRIGHT BUILDING ONE BLACK CAREER AT A TIME



You may recognize Danai Gurira as an actress from the Walking Dead. But she's also a playwright that's been working for more than 10 years. She just had an all black female production on Broadway. Her play Eclipsed has been produced a few times on a few different stages and Uzo Aduba (Orange Is The New Black) was in one of her older productions.

Lupita Nyong'o, Danai herself, and Akosua Busia (Nettie in The Color Purple) gave her enough star power to get this latest production of Eclipsed on Broadway while also giving Nyong'o herself some much needed visibility. Nyong'o was in the last Star Wars, but you couldn't see her at all due to the costuming and make up. But now Nyong'o and Gurira both are due to be The Black Panther, due in theaters by 2018.

Saycon Sengbloh, of Eclipsed, has gone on to be in Shonda Rhimes' Scandal.  Lupita's rising visibility (and income) is allowing her to take more steps toward getting Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's book, Americanah, into movie theaters.

Danai Guirira has said that her goal is to get more black women working as actresses, directors, and the like and also telling more black women's stories. Guirira is well on her way. 


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Some of her work is listed below.

I've actually seen both Eclipsed and In The Continuum. So, I expect great things from her. Other black women's careers will be based on her work. Those question marks in her tree will be replaced with photographs of other actresses, directors, and playwrights one day














ECLIPSED 
(Award Winning Play. Multiple productions. Most Recently On Broadway 2016)


NY TIMES REVIEW


The women depicted in Danai Gurira’s soul-searing “Eclipsed,” which opened on Broadway at the Golden Theater on Sunday, have lost just about everything. Their dignity, their freedom, their families, their hope. Perhaps most disturbingly, they have lost their own names, or rather tried to forget them.


http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/07/theater/review-in-eclipsed-a-captive-lupita-nyongo-is-captivating.html

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Why Hillary Clinton and Beyonce 
Should See 'Eclipsed' on Broadway
(AN INTERVIEW WITH PASCALE ARMAND)

Eclipsed, Danai Gurira’s heartbreaking play about women conscripted into sex slavery during the Liberian civil war at the beginning of the 21st century, isn’t like anything else on Broadway at the moment.

It may have star power — with Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o in a pivotal part and Gurira, who's also known to many for her role on The Walking Dead [and Akosua Busia most famous for The Color Purple] — but it is relentless in its depiction of the brutality of war and how women are treated.

This is not a light evening of entertainment.


This year’s theater season could be seen as a direct rebuke of Hollywood’s #OscarsSoWhite fiasco, [with Eclipsed, The Color Purple, Shuffle Along, and Hamilton all featurings multi-ethnic casts.]  But Eclipsed is also making history as the first all-female, but all-black production in Broadway history.

http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/why-hillary-clinton-and-beyonce-should-see-eclipsed-on-broadway-20160325


THE CONVERT
(2011 - 2015)

From prodigiously talented playwright Danai Gurira (Eclipsed, In the Continuum) comes The Convert; winner of the 2011 Stavis Award and Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award. In 1895 in the region that would become Zimbabwe, a girl is forced to choose between her family’s traditions and the Christian faith and Western values she has embraced. Born in the U.S. and raised in Zimbabwe, Gurira’s unique perspective and distinctive voice have created a compelling new play filled with humor and compassion.

http://www.mccarter.org/theconvert/


Two Women, One Story 
IN THE CONTINUUM
(from 2006)


The two-woman show In the Continuum began as a graduate school acting project. Now the off-Broadway show has been named one of the ten best plays of the year by The New York Times.

Nikkole Salter and Danai Gurira, who met at New York University, are the play's authors and actresses. Both play black women with HIV, as well as other characters. Salter is Nia, a teenage African-American girl. Gurira is Abigail Murambe, a newsreader for the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corp. She's pregnant with a second child and having marital problems.

The material sounds grim, but Times drama critic Charles Isherwood says it's anything but a depressing experience.

"It's not a dirge. It's not a lecture," he says. "It's not preachy at all."

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5202209