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The early plays of Suzan-Lori Parks often are referred to as "the history plays in which the playwright reconstructs historical events to fill a lack or hole in history caused by the exclusion of any African-American presence. (1) These nonrealistic, experimental plays feature characters that are alienated from the history that they (and Parks) revisit, deconstruct, resurrect, and reconstruct. Parks claims, "Through each line of text I'm rewriting the Time Line--creating history where it is and always was but has not yet been divined." (2) Beginning in 1996 with the production of Venus, Parks's plays began to explore new directions. Venus, in its depiction of a historical character, has much in common with the earlier history plays; however, it serves also as a transition to In the Blood and F*****g A. In these three plays, Parks places African or African-American women center stage in order to question representations of women's bodies as possessions, as objects of desire, and as bloody biological battlefields. Parks also questions the place of African-American women in literature. "So much of the discussion today in literary criticism" Parks explains, "concerns how the African-American literary contribution should be incorporated into the canon. The history of Literature is in question" (4). These three plays are experiments in dramatic form as well as content and as such belong to a new category of writing for Parks that could be called the "literature plays." (3) "If we can allow painters to have different periods," Parks declares, "then we can allow playwrights to have different periods, too." (4) Exploring a few of the literary references and the structures of these plays in progression reveals that Parks draws from diverse literary sources to reconstruct a classical poetic epic in Venus, a classical tragedy in a contemporary setting in In the Blood, and an example of Brechtian epic theater in F*****g A. Parks, by utilizing forms established by Western European males throughout history, creates additional works that constitute a new literary "tradition" to fill the absence where the presence of African and African-American women frequently was omitted. (5)

Arts & Entertainment
June 22
Comparative Drama
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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