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Theodore Ward was born 1902 in Louisiana, one of eleven children. He joined the Chicago branch of the Federal Theatre, where he wrote Big White Fog, staged in New York by the Negro Playwrights Company, which he co-founded with Langston Hughes and Paul Robeson. He wrote 30 more plays including Our Land, which ran on Broadway, before his death in Chicago in 1983. He was the first black dramatist to be awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Big White Fog
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Big White Fog

Theodore Ward
Chicago South Side in the 1930s. Struggling to keep his dreams alive and his family together, Victor Mason is an educated black man reduced to working on building sites. His loyalty to Marcus Garvey’s Back to Africa movement clashes with his family’s pursuit of the American dream despite the twin evils of the Depression and racism.

Never seen outside America, Ward’s landmark family drama, written when the words black and playwright rarely occurred together, Big White Fog remains as poignant for Britain today as it did when it burst upon America in 1938 as a product of the Federal Theatre Project, which also saw Orson Welles’ black Macbeth.

This first production outside America is premiered at the Almeida, London, staged by Artistic Director Michael Attenborough. The volume includes background documentation, an essay by the author about the origins of the play and quotations from James Baldwin.

Cast : 12M, 7F
Nick Hern Books | 978-1-85459-595-9 | Sales rights: Australia/NZ | PB