Publication Year



performance, theatre, African-Americans, playwriting, Black theatre, society and culture


African American Studies | Dramatic Literature, Criticism and Theory | Performance Studies | Playwriting | Theatre and Performance Studies


Is it worthwhile for a Black person to pursue an acting career? "Black Crescendo", the fruit of a study of four Black female roles, is, hopefully, an answer to that question. It offers a bird's-eye view of the direction Black theatre has taken in recent years. The word 'crescendo' implies a surging up or a gradual increase. Thus, after reading and researching various roles, I decided on four that I believe represent this swell from a stage of mediocrity to a more brilliant, but by no means climactic, level as will be substantiated in this paper. Early 20th Century works were avoided because of their deficiency in many areas of theatrical and social importance.

The roles chosen for study and performance are:

(1) Berenice Sadie Brown from Carson McCullers' The Member of the Wedding;

(2) Beneatha Younger from Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun;

(3) Lena Younger (Mama) also from A Raisin in the Sun;

(4) Juanita Harmon from James Baldwin's Blues for Mister Charlie.