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This list of plays is not at all exhaustive, but instead includes some highlights from our research on plays by Black writers from the 20th century.

  • The Black Doctor by Ira Aldridge *
  • The Amen Corner by James Baldwin
  • Dutchman by Amiri Baraka
  • The Slave by Amiri Baraka 
  • The Purple Flower by Marita Bonner
  • The Escape; or, A Leap for Freedom by William Wells Brown*
  • Aftermath by Mary P. Burrill
  • Wedding Band: A Love/Hate Story in Black and White by Alice Childress
  • The Brothers by Kathleen Collins
  • Remembrance by Kathleen Collins
  • The Shining Town by Owen Vincent Dodson
  • Ceremonies in Dark Old Men by Lonne Elder III
  • Splendid Mummer by Lonne Elder III
  • No Place to Be Somebody by Charles Gordone
  • Les Blancs by Lorraine Hansberry
  • The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window by Lorraine Hansberry
  • On Strivers Row by Abram Hill
  • Blue-Eyed Black Boy by Georgia Douglas Johnson
  • Ohio State Murders by Adrienne Kennedy
  • The First Breeze of Summer by Leslie Lee
  • Livin’ Fat by Judi Ann Mason 
  • Christophe’s Daughters by May Miller
  • Harriet Tubman by May Miller
  • Riding the Goat by May Miller
  • What the Wine-Sellers Buy by Ron Milner
  • The Mojo and the Sayso by Aishah Rahman
  • Unfinished Women Cry in No Man’s Land While a Bird Dies in a Gilded Cage by Aishah Rahman
  • The Chip Woman’s Fortune by Willis Richardson
  • Her by Eulalie Spence
  • Day of Absence by Douglas Turner Ward
  • Big White Fog by Theodore Ward
  • The Talented Tenth by Richard Wesley 

*Note that this text was written prior to the 20th century.


There are many other theaters, organizations, and collectives who are contributing to efforts to uplift Black playwrights and reimagine the canon. We recommend that you check out their resources to learn about even more excellent plays and their writers.

Alternative Canon to 1945: Non-Western plays, plays by Black, Indigenous, people of color, by women and by queer writers from before 1945 

Black Work Broadway 


Hedgepig Ensemble Theatre’s Expand the Canon

The Mint Theater Company’s Lost Voices in Black History 

The Negro Ensemble Company’s Production History


Woodie King Jr.’s New Federal Theatre Production Archive