The sheer exuberance of language that pours forth in Dael Orlandersmith's plays has dazzled critics and audiences alike. In these three pieces, the award-winning writer and performer celebrates the power of words to rescue the young black women she portrays from their constricted worlds.
In the Obie Award-winning play "Beauty's Daughter," Diane yearns to free herself from her soul-deadening surroundings, where people drown their unfulfilled aspirations in drugs and alcohol. In "Monster," Theresa imagines a life in the rock-'n'-roll poetry bohemia of Manhattan's Lower East Side and away from her home in East Harlem, where she is scorned as a misfit. And in "The Gimmick," Alexis escapes her brutal reality among the library bookshelves, where she dreams of becoming a writer in Paris. Charged with fearless wisdom, these three electrifying plays transform rage-filled ghetto experience into a triumph of rhapsodic expression.
These three poignant plays by Orlandersmith, a promising African American actress and playwright, include the 1995 Obie Award-winning Beauty's Daughter and two shorter plays, all of which premiered in New York and Princeton, NJ, during 1996-99. The plays, which are based upon Orlandersmith's experience growing up in New York City's East Harlem, reveal the violent, multiracial ghetto life of alcohol, drugs, and sex through the eyes of children, adolescents, and adults as their early hopes and dreams are replaced with raw anger or despair. Orlandersmith is unique in her creative use of short phrasing and references to jazz, blues, rap, and rock'n'roll as background. Reflecting the tempos, actions, and moods of each play, these techniques enhance her poetic style, which makes reading this work a memorable experience. Recommended for modern American drama collections in all academic and public libraries.--Ming-ming Shen Kuo, Ball State Univ. Libs., Muncie, IN Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.