Black Repertory Group

Black Repertory
49th Season

3201 Adeline St. Berkeley CA. 94703


BY Douglas Turner Ward

Day of absence Synopsis:
ouglas Turner Ward's Day of Absence (1965) is set in any small town in the Deep South. None of the town's black people have been seen since the previous evening. When this fact becomes general knowledge, the establishment comes to the brink of chaos. Without its black labor force, the town is paralyzed because of its dependence on this sector of the community.

 In a final effort to retrieve the missing black population, Mayor Henry R. E. Lee makes a personal appeal on television. He begs and pleads and threatens black absentees. When no immediate response is forthcoming, a white mob confronts him and bedlam races through the entire community.
Despite the serious message about the underlying economic importance and potential power of black people to this country, Day of Absence invites an audience to share in the experiences.
The play received mixed reviews from the New York critics. Martin Gottfried of Women's Wear Daily summarily dismissed the play as “childish, dull and silly.” sre to sustain a strong dramatic line.
There was criticism by some blacks who felt that Ward should have chosen another comic form for propaganda rather than drawing what they considered to be a negative image of black stereotypes. In spite of this mixed criticism, Day of Absence ran for 504 performances, and Ward was honored with two Obie awards—one for his performance as mayor and one for writing the play.
A crucial component in the development of the African American theater during the 1960s was the necessity to cultivate  audiences who could share African American experiences from slavery through the civil rights era and beyond. Ward chose to accomplish this through the biting edge of humor. The external elements of colloquial and topical language, together with movement and gesture of farcical expansion, are funny to the core; yet just below the surface one can experience vicariously the hurt, suffering, and humiliation associated with this form and style of drama.

Gen. $25.00  Sr./Child  (12 and under)/Student (student I.D. Required)- $15.00  Matinee: $10.00

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