From the Harlem Renaissance to the Black Arts Movement to Black Lives Matter, Black artists have been creating important art for as long as art has existed. In this moment of great sadness and grief, we want to lift up Black voices, perspectives, and plays and shine a light on some of the most trailblazing and important works from theater’s past and present.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but here’s a primer for Black plays to read, cast albums to listen to, and more.
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
Lorraine Hansberry was the first Black woman to have a play on Broadway, and her searing family drama premiered in 1959. The story follows a Black family on the south side of Chicago, attempting to improve their financial situation through an insurance payout but grappling with obstacles put in their way. The play has been adapted many times, including a 2008 movie directed by Kenny Leon and starring Sean Combs, Phyllicia Rashad, and Audra McDonald.