by Bruce Allen Dick
University of Illinois Press, 2024
Cloth: 978-0-252-04568-4 | Paper: 978-0-252-08779-0 | eISBN: 978-0-252-05546-1
Library of Congress Classification PS3545.R815
Dewey Decimal Classification 812.52

Richard Wright’s dramatic imagination guided the creation of his masterpieces Native Son and Black Boy and helped shape Wright’s long-overlooked writing for theater and other performative mediums.

Drawing on decades of research and interviews with Wright’s family and Wright scholars, Bruce Allen Dick uncovers the theatrical influence on Wright’s oeuvre--from his 1930s boxing journalism to his unpublished one-acts on returning Black GIs in WWII to his unproduced pageant honoring Vladimir Lenin. Wright maintained rewarding associations with playwrights, writers, and actors such as Langston Hughes, Theodore Ward, Paul Robeson, and Lillian Hellman, and took particular inspiration from French literary figures like Jean-Paul Sartre. Dick’s analysis also illuminates Wright’s direct involvement with theater and film, including the performative aspects of his travel writings; the Orson Welles-directed Native Son on Broadway; his acting debut in Native Son’s first film version; and his play “Daddy Goodness,” a satire of religious charlatans like Father Divine, in the 1930s.

Bold and original, Thunder on the Stage offers a groundbreaking reinterpretation of a major American writer.

See other books on: 1908-1960 | Richard Wright | Stage | Stage history | Wright, Richard
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