This Issue
Volume 2, Number 2, March 2016

Critical Conversations thumb

Dr. Freda Scott Giles
University of Georgia

Dr. Hely M. Perez Alvarado
Project Development Consultant
P and P Projects, LLC

Executive Editorial Board

Dr. Sandra Adell, University of Wisconsin
Dr. Paul Bryant-Jackson, Miami University, Ohio
Dr. Sandra Shannon, 
Howard University
Dr. Beth Turner, 
Florida A&M University

Consulting Editor
Dr. Harry Elam, Stanford University

Book Review Editor
Dr. Sandra Adell
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Production Review Editor
Rebekkah Pierce
The Pierce Agency, LLC

CONTINUUM: The Journal of African Diaspora Drama, Theatre and Performance  ISSN 2471-2507
Volume 2 Number  2

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From August Wilson to Tyler Perry: Crossing Paths on the Way to Tomorrow
Gene Bryan Johnson

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 “From August Wilson to Tyler Perry: Crossing Paths on the Way to Tomorrow” begins by asking why events such as the NAACP Image Awards do not recognize black playwriting.  I trace the roots of Tyler Perry’s financial success to urban Gospel theatre marketing innovations developed in the Frankfurt School-like environment of New York City circa 1984, and demonstrate how black communities bore a significant portion of the pain yet contributed the lion’s share of meaningful artistic expression.  This essay connects Wilson’s roots as a disciple in the tradition of the 1960s Black Power movement to his belief in the need for contemporary theatre "about us, by us, for us and near us,” and intertwines historical facts with personal anecdotes and interviews with actor/scholar Stephen McKinley Henderson, members of Wilson’s production team and estate, TOBA circuit veteran Bill Dillard, urban Gospel theatre producer Tiffani Gavin, scholars Paul Carter Harrison, Todd Boyd and Carlton Molette and others.  I argue that, while Perry’s “plays” do not reach the artistic level of Wilson’s theatre, Perry’s use of the Internet and social media has set a new standard for identifying, identifying with, marketing to, entertaining and inviting black audiences into the theatre.


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