Showing posts from February, 2021

To Inspire, Lift, and Liberate—the Enduring Vision of Alice Childress

By Arminda Thomas   Announcing her death in 1994, the New York Times headline read, “Alice Childress, 77, a Novelist,” though the full obituary allowed that she also wrote some plays. While Childress would likely have objected to that order, having devoted the bulk of her life to playwriting, the paper of record’s choice is understandable. As a playwright, Childress’s story is more difficult to measure: hers was a progressive voice too often hemmed in by anxious, benighted producers; a mainstage talent shoehorned into black box realities. Alice Childress. Photo courtesy of Arminda Thomas. The story began, promisingly enough, at a little Harlem theater with a big mission, the American Negro Theatre—a company so hardworking members called themselves the ANTs, and were expected to function as actors, directors, designers, and box office managers. "The American Negro Theatre Company," Childress recalled, "worked ten years without salary, four nights per week, keeping the sa