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365 Days/365 Plays: Home

About the Author

Image source: www.pugetsound.edu/pressphotos.xml

General Information:

  • Born May 10th, 1963, Fort Knox, Kentucky;
  • Father was an army colonel; family moved around a lot

Education:

  • Attended German high school when her father was stationed in Germany
  • 1985 Mount Holyoke College
    • Majored in English and German; Phi Beta Kapp graduate
    • Took a creative writing class taught by African American novelist James Baldwin who encouraged her to try writing plays
  • 1986 Yale University School of Drama

Major Works:

  • The Sinners Place (1984)
  • Betting on the Dust Commander (1990)
  • Imperceptible Mutabilities in the United Kingdom (1989)
  • The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World (1990)
  • The America Play (1993)
  • Girl Six (1995)
  • Venus (1996)
  • In the Blood (1999)
  • Fucking A (2000)
  • Topdog/Underdog (2001)
  • Getting Mother's Body (2003)
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God (2005)
  • 365 Days/365 Plays (2006)
  • Ray Charles Live! (2007)
  • The Book of Grace (2010)
  • Porgy & Bess (2011), adaptation
  • Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1, 2, 3 (2014)

Awards:

  • Pulitzer Prize, 2002
  • Best Off-Broadway Play, 1989, 1996
  • PEN-Laura Pels Award for Excellence in Play writing, 2000
  • Lila-Wallace Reader’s Digest Award, 1995
  • CalArts/Alpert Award in the Arts (Drama), 1996
  • Guggenheim Foundation Grant, 2000
  • MacArthur “Genius” Award 2001

Chronology:

   1982: Takes a short story class with James Baldwin, who encourages her to write plays. Begins to write The Sinner's Place in Baldwin's class. 

   1984: Park's senior thesis play, The Sinner's Placeis written at Mount Holyoke.

   1985: Graduates Phi Beta Kappa from Mount Holyoke College with a double major in English and German. Studies in London at London Drama Studio for a year

   1986: Returns to the USA and moves to New York City

   1987: Betting on the Dust Commander premieres at The Gas Station, New York

   1989: Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom premires at BACA Downtown, Brooklyn

   1992: Winns Whiting Writers' Award. Devotees in the Garden of Love is commissioned by Humana Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville.

   1994: The America Play produced at Yale Repertory Theatre and The Joseph Papp Public Theatre/ New York Shakespeare Festival

   1996: Writes the screenplay for Spike Lee's Girl 6. 

   2003: Getting Mother's Body, her first novel is published.

   2005: Their Eyes are Watching God, starring Halle Berry, premiers in March on ABC television. Writes the screenplay for Act V (not produced). Begins writing  the book for the musical Ray, a musical version of the life of Ray Charles.

   2006: Writes the screenplay for The Great Debaters. On 13 November, the individual plays of 365 Days/365 Plays have a 'simultaneous and shared world premiere' when they begin being performed at hundreds of theatres around the USA. 

   2007: 365 Days/365 Plays Completed during week of 12 November. 

Campus Production

The 2014 campus production of 365 Days/365 Plays was performed in the Norton Clapp Theatre on:

November 1, 7:30 PM

November 6-7, 7:30 PM

November 8, 2:00 PM, 7:30 PM

Selections from 365 Days/365 Plays

Parks, Suzan-Lori. 2006. "Selections from 365 Days 365 Plays." American Theatre 23, no. 9: 28-31

Plays include:

  • NOVEMBER 13: Start Here  KRISHNA:  We start here. Come on.
  • DECEMBER 6: Blackbird 
  • JANUARY 10: Things Are Tough All Over 
  • FEBRUARY 12: The Birth of Abraham Lincoln
  • MARCH 29 (AGAIN): Something for Mom
  • APRIL 7: Father Comes Home from the Wars (Part 4)
  • MAY 19: A Scene from the Great Opera
  • JUNE 14: The Kingdom of this World
  • JUNE 18: Father Comes Home from the Wars (Part 8)
  • JULY 18: A Play for the Writer Carol Shields
  • SEPTEMBER 19: Lickety-Split
  • NOVEMBER 9: 9-11

About the Play

 

 

In Parks' own words about the title:

"With 365 - it just rhymed: 365 Days/365 Plays. That was why I thought a play a day would be so fun: the title rhymed. That kind of stuff is like the heartbeat. It's there and it's strong but most of us don't have to think about it much."

Source: Wetmore, Kevin J.,. Suzan-Lori Parks : A Casebook. London ; New York: Routledge, 2007. p. 129

 

"Parks continues this self-revision in her collection 365 Days / 365 Plays. In this text Parks wrote a play a day for a year, beginning with November 13, since the idea for the collection came to her on November 13, 2002. Parks wrote of the experiment in the front matter, before the plays, 'The plan was that no matter what I did, how busy I was, what other commitments I had, I would write a play a day, every single day, for a year. It would be about being present and being committed to the artistic process every single day regardless of the 'weather.' It became a daily meditation, a daily prayer celebrating the rick and strange process of a writing life'. Parks described the play-a-day process as sometimes being 'torture,' but she added, 'that's when you find out who you are as a writier'"

Source: Larson, Jennifer. Understanding Suzan-Lori Parks; University of South Carolina, 2012. p. 130

Read more:

Blankenship, Mark. "One Play A Day." Diverse: Issues In Higher Education 24.3 (2007): 22

Walat, Kathryn. "These Are The Days 365." American Theatre 23.9 (2006): 26-83

Criticism & Reviews

Als, Hilton. "The Show-Woman: Suzan-Lori Park's Idea For The Largest Theatre Collaboration Ever." New Yorker 82.35 (2006): 74-81.

Beach, Maria. "365 Days/365 Plays." Theatre Journal 59.4 (2007): 649.
 
"The Daily Show." Village Voice51.47 (2006): 52
 

Doherty, Donna. “It's the Home Stretch for Suzan-Lori Parks' Ambitious and Innovative Theater Project, 365 Days/365 Plays.” New Haven Register 4 Nov. 2007. In this article, Doherty discusses the production at Yale University with comments from the Associate Artistic Director.

Foley, Elizabeth V. “Parks, Suzan-Lori.” Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History. Ed. Colin A. Palmer. Vol. 4. 2nd ed. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2006. 1729–30. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Foley provides a brief overview of Parks's major works that compares her to Gertrude Stein and Adrienne Kennedy.

Kolin, Philip C. "Redefining The Way Theatre Is Created And Performed: The Radical Inclusion Of Suzan-Lori Parks's 365 Days/365 Plays." Journal Of Dramatic Theory And Criticism 22.1 (2007): 65-83.

Larson, Jennifer. "Suzan-Lori Parks's 365 Days/365 Plays: A (W)Hole New Approach To Theatre." Suzan-Lori Parks: Essays on the Plays and Other Works. 124-139.Minderovic,

Miner, Christine. “Parks, Suzan-Lori 1964–.” Contemporary Black Biography. Ed. Ashyia N. Henderson. Vol. 34. Detroit: Gale, 2002. 122–24. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 21 Aug. 2011. Minderovic provides a brief biography of Parks that includes a listing of her awards.

Muse, John H. "Eons In An Instant: The Paradoxes Of Suzan-Lori Parks's 365 Days/365 Plays." Journal Of American Drama And Theatre 22.1 (2010): 7-31.

Muse, John H. "Performance And The Pace Of Empathy." Journal Of Dramatic Theory And Criticism 26.2 (2012): 173-188

“Parks, Suzan-Lori 1964–.” Black Literature Criticism: Classic and Emerging Authors since 1950. Ed. Jelena O. Krstovic. 2nd ed. Vol. 3. Detroit: Gale, 2008. 196-212. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 11 Nov. 2011. This entry provides a critical introduction to Parks' works and includes reprints of critical essays discussing her work.

Rugg, Rebecca Ann. "Dramaturgy As Devotion: 365 Days/365 Plays Of Suzan-Lori Parks." PAJ: A Journal Of Performance And Art 31.1 (2009): 68-79.

Shapiro, Howard. "The Philadelphia Inquirer Howard Shapiro column: Creative concept is full of laughs." Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA) 05 Nov. 2007

“Washington University to Present 365 Plays/365 Days by Suzan-Lori Parks April 2 to 8.” US Fed News Service 16 Mar. 2007.  Web. 16 Aug. 2011. This news release by Washington University discusses Parks's collaboration with Metzgar.

Wilmer, S. E. “Restaging the Nation: The Work of Suzan-Lori Parks.” Modern Drama 43.3 (fall 2000): 442. Literature Resources from Gale. In this essay, Wilmer discusses Parks's themes, symbolism, and theater techniques in her major works.