The Life and Work of Father Comes Home Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks
By Elspeth Sweatman
Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks is a force that refuses to be contained. She is a lover of jazz and opera, William Faulkner and William Shakespeare, Roots and Downton Abbey. Her beaming smile, booming laugh, and rhythmic voice draw you in. She is fiercely intelligent, puckish, meticulous.
|Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks. Photo by Tammy Shell.|
In 1986, Parks moved to New York City, where she temped as a paralegal and searched for a home for her work. On a subway ride home, Parks approached Village Voice theater critic Alisa Solomon and asked her where she could send her plays. “They’re kind of unconventional,” Parks told her. Solomon passed her manuscripts on to Mac Wellman, the literary advisor at Brooklyn Arts and Cultural Association (BACA). “He sort of flipped, and sent it to me,” says director Liz Diamond, “and I sort of flipped.”
Diamond directed Parks’s Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom at BACA Downtown in 1989. It was an immediate success, winning the Obie Award for Best New American Play in 1990. Her next four plays found a home at The Public Theater: The America Play (1994), Venus (1996), In the Blood (1999), and the Pulitzer Prize–winning Topdog/Underdog (2003).
|The cast of Yale Repertory Theatre and A.C.T.'s 2018 production |
of Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3). Photo by Joan Marcus.
Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3) runs through May 20 at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater. Click here to purchase tickets. Want to learn more about playwright Suzan-Lori Parks? Order a copy of Words on Plays, A.C.T.'s in-depth performance guide series.