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BOOK REVIEWS [927, is built around the pending arrival of Ma Rainey for a studio recording and the conflict' among musicians, manager, and record producer. The play "fairly overwhelmed" New York critics and showed the acting talents of Charles Dutton as Levee (3I). The decade of the 1930S is represented in The Piano Lesson (1990), in which a brother and sister, Boy Willie and Berniece, hold differing views on whether to keep or sell a piano, a symbol of the family 's Southern racial history. The New York production coincided with Wilson 's receiving his second Pulitzer Prize. Seven Guitars (1996) looks back on the 1940S and the life of Floyd Banon, a musician who returns to Pittsburgh after incarceration and struggles to re-establish relationships with a past lover, Vera, and a fellow musician, Canewell. With Two Trains Running (1992), Wilson explored themes of the sixties, the political significance of Malcolm X, and the possibilities of justice symbolized in one character's claim that he is owed a "ham." Highly praised by critics, the play resulted in a Tony Award for Laurence Fishburne. Shafer's plot summaries are succinct and stylistically uniform, perhaps a necessity in such a reference work. The critical overviews give a clear sense of the range of reviewers' comments. One repeated thread is Wilson's use of black language, some critics considering it an asset, and others at times suggesting the need for CUlling. Accessible, readable and well-organized, this sourcebook is of immense value for researchers who need factual infonnation regarding Wilson's life, plays, and reputation. JOSE PH MCLAREN. HOFSTRA UNIVERSITY JOSEPH MCLAREN. Langston Hughes: Folk Dramatist in the Protest Tradition 1921-1943. Contributions in Afro-American and African Studies, No. 181. Westpon, CT, and London: Greenwood Press, 1997. Pp. 248, illustrated. $49·95· Joseph McLaren's work on Langston Hughes provides insightful analysis that establishes Hughes as an imponant dramatist as well as a prominent poet. This book, by providing a comprehensive analysis of Hughes's early dramatic work, fills a critical void. It is the only book-length work devoted entirely to Hughes's dramas and his life in the theatre. Beginning with the aboned Mule Bone project and continuing through Hughes's work with the Harlem Suitcase Theatre and the New Negro Theatre, McLaren's book provides an historical and critical analysis of the author's work and critical response to it. McLaren begins with a historical overview of the folk drama genre and leftist drama of the [930s. He argues convincingly that Hughes successfully straddles the two critical frameworks of the time; rather than writing either folk dramas or protest dramas, drawing lines roughly with the Locke/DuBois BookReviews 665 distinction, Hughes successfully incorporated elements of folk drama into his more explicit agitprop dramas but also included elements of leftist protest drama in those works generally considered folk plays. The first chapter contemplates Hughes's collaboration with Hurston on Mule Bone. McLaren provides a very well balanced picture of the collaboration and, I believe, a platform from which he can explain Hughes's interest in folk drama and his success in creating dramatic works that "achieve[dj both the folk comedy and the social critique" (27). Chapter two follows naturally; entitled "Radical Drama and the Black Community," it provides original analysis of Hughes's overt social protest dramas, including Scottsboro Limited and Angelo Herndon Jones. This chapter, as well as the later chapters on Hughes's works with Karamu and the Harlem Suitcase Theatre, are substantial contributions to Hughes scholarship. These plays are among the lesser known, and to date there has been little critical attention to them. McLaren demonstrates how important they are to Hughes's body of work and how they provided a starting place from which he would go on to write Mulatto and Don't You Want to Be Free. McLaren also works in the broad critical responses to several of the plays; this is most effective and also most noticeable in the chapter on Mulatto. McLaren analyses the play and a broad range of critical responses to the play's production, revealing much about the sociopolitical context in which the play was written and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5286
Print ISSN
0026-7694
Pages
pp. 664-665
Launched on MUSE
2013-07-03
Open Access
No
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