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Glenda Dickerson

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Since 1981, I have been conducting research on black women behind the scenes in the American theatre. As a black female lighting designer, I am aware of our invisibility within the larger American theatre and have made an effort to expose these women to a wider audience. I have interviewed numerous black women who have made significant contributions to the American theatre. These women include designers, producers, directors, playwrights, artistic directors, and other individuals working behind the scenes. This is a rare interview I conducted with Glenda Dickerson (1945-2012) during a rehearsal of her adaptation of The Trojan Women, performed with an all-black cast during January 1983. This interview is very dear to me as Dickerson was a mentor. I followed her career with various interviews, tapings at conferences, and the publication of one of her plays. Glenda Dickerson was a director, folklorist, actress, adapter/conceiver, and educator. With a career of nearly 40 years she was known for her unique adaptations of Greek classics, African American folktales, the feminist theatre approach, and ensemble work. She was the second black woman to direct on Broadway with the 1980 musical Reggae. Her work has also been presented nationally and internationally. In the commercial arena she was constantly presented with racial and gender challenges. After working in mainstream theatre for many years, Dickerson chose to focus her talents on educational and community-oriented theatre. She also began to concentrate on feminist/womanist theatre. She taught at Howard University, Spelman, Rutgers, and the University of Michigan. Only in recent years is her work finally gaining recognition, but as with many other black women, Dickerson’s contributions are largely unknown.

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