Kennedy, Adrienne

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American playwright, memoirist, and educator.

From the description of Papers, ca. 1954-1992. (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRC); University of Texas at Austin). WorldCat record id: 122494190

Epithet: playwright

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000001305.0x0003b8

Playwright and educator Adrienne Kennedy, the daughter of Cornell Wallace Hawkins and Etta Haugabook Hawkins, was born on September 13, 1931, in Pittsburgh, PA. Kennedy grew up in Cleveland, OH, where her parents moved four years after her birth. She received her B.A. from Ohio State University in 1952, and married Joseph C. Kennedy on May 15, 1953, with whom she had two sons, Joseph Jr. and Adam. After moving to New York, Kennedy studied creative writing at Columbia University (1954-1956), American Theatre Wing (1958), and later with Edward Albee at Circle-in-the-Square School (1962). She has also taught creative writing at Yale University, Princeton University, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of California at Davis.

Kennedy is an African-American dramatist whose early works utilize a surrealist perspective. Though she has mentioned Tennessee Williams and Federico García Lorca as two of her favorite playwrights, at least one critic has noted a kinship with Jean Cocteau in certain of her works. Her richly symbolic plays deal with racial, sexual, and religious themes, and are often disarmingly autobiographical. Kennedy calls her plays states of mind, written while images fiercely pound in (her) head. Frequently the characters and images that appear in her plays are drawn from the mythical and historical past, or from her own memories and dreams. The landscape of her plays has been peopled by figures as unlikely as Queen Victoria, Leonardo da Vinci, Jesus Christ, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Galileo, Beethoven, Charlie Chaplin, Bette Davis, Shelley Winters, and even rats (in A Rat's Mass, inspired by a particularly vivid dream). Powerful African and African-American figures in her work include Patrice Lumumba, Malcolm X, and sniper James Essex.

Kennedy's best known play, Funnyhouse of a Negro, was begun in 1961 while traveling in Africa, and was the first of her plays to be produced. It opened off-Broadway in 1964 with great success and won an Obie Award. During the next several years, Kennedy was the recipient of numerous fellowships and grants (Guggenheim, Rockefeller, National Endowment for the Arts, etc.), writing a number of plays, most of which were professionally produced in major theaters in the United States and Europe. Among her plays are The Owl Answers (1963), A Rat's Mass (1966), The Lennon Play: in His Own Write (1967), Lesson in a Dead Language (1968), A Beast's Story (1969), An Evening with Dead Essex (1973), and A Movie Star Has to Star in Black and White (1976). Her more recent plays include She Talks to Beethoven (1989) and Ohio State Murders (1990). She has also written children's plays ( Black Children's Day and A Lancashire Lad, both 1980), a novella ( Deadly Triplets, 1990), and a memoir ( People Who Led to My Plays, 1987).

Two collections of her plays, Adrienne Kennedy in One Act (1988) and The Alexander Plays (1992), have been published.

From the guide to the Adrienne Kennedy Papers TXRC94-A15., ca. 1954-1992, (Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Miscellaneous screen, stage, and radio scripts, ca. 1859-2007. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Lucille Lortel papers, 1902-2000 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
creatorOf Adrienne Kennedy Papers TXRC94-A15., ca. 1954-1992 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People Theatre Archives (University of Guelph). A Lancashire Lad / by Adrienne Kennedy ; directed by Joseph Balfior ; designed by Richard Finkelstein, 1980 - technical drawings. University of Guelph
creatorOf Theatre Passe Muraille Archives. In His Own Write / from book by John Lennon of same name ; adapted by Adrienne Kennedy, 1970 - reviews and articles. University of Guelph
creatorOf Young People's Theatre Archives. A Lancashire Lad / by Adrienne Kennedy ; directed by Joseph Balfior, 1980 - poster. University of Guelph
referencedIn Photographs: Index. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
creatorOf Sophocles. Oedipus the king / by Sophocles ; translated by Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald ; text consultant, Adrienne Kennedy, 2001. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Kennedy, Adrienne. Diary of lights : a piece with music ... / Adrienne Kennedy. Ohio State University Libraries
referencedIn Gerard Malanga Papers, 1944-1971 Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries
referencedIn American Repertory Theatre (Cambridge, Mass.). Prompt books and related materials, 1961-2006. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
creatorOf NDWT Archives (University of Guelph). A Fairy Tale Life / by Adrienne Kennedy, 1979 - unproduced reading script. University of Guelph
creatorOf Kennedy, Adrienne. Papers, ca. 1954-1992. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Correspondence, etc., 1980-2003. Correspondents include: Reinhardt, Chaplin, Oona Chaplin, Rachel M. Ford, Chaplin's business manager, Jean-Félix Paschoud, of Verdant SA, Adrienne Kennedy and Robert Laffont. , 1980-2003 British Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Albee, Edward, 1928- person
associatedWith American Repertory Theatre (Cambridge, Mass.). corporateBody
associatedWith Baraka, Imamu Amiri, 1934- person
associatedWith Baraka, Imanu Amiri, 1934- person
associatedWith Brooks, Gwendolyn, 1917- person
associatedWith Bullins, Ed. person
associatedWith Bullins, Ed. person
associatedWith Chaikin, Joseph, 1935- person
associatedWith Davis, Ossie. person
associatedWith Davis, Ossie. person
associatedWith Dee, Ruby. person
associatedWith Dee, Ruby. person
associatedWith Freedman, Gerald. person
associatedWith Freedman, Gerald. person
associatedWith Giovanni, Nikki. person
associatedWith Giovanni, Nikki. person
associatedWith Hardwick, Elizabeth. person
associatedWith Hardwick, Elizabeth. person
associatedWith Jackson, George, 1941-1971. person
associatedWith Jeffry, Alix person
associatedWith Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute. corporateBody
associatedWith Johnson, Robert, d. 1938. person
associatedWith Jones, James Earl. person
associatedWith Jones, James Earl. person
associatedWith Kahn, Michael. person
associatedWith Kahn, Michael. person
associatedWith Kazan, Elia. person
associatedWith Kazan, Elia. person
associatedWith Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People Theatre Archives (University of Guelph) corporateBody
associatedWith Lortel, Lucille person
associatedWith MacDermot, Galt. person
associatedWith MacDermot, Galt. person
associatedWith Malanga, Gerard. person
associatedWith Mann, Theodore. person
associatedWith Mann, Theodore. person
associatedWith Marshall, William, 1924- person
associatedWith Marshall, William, 1924-2003. person
associatedWith NDWT Archives (University of Guelph) corporateBody
associatedWith Nichols, Mike. person
associatedWith Nichols, Mike. person
associatedWith Papp, Joseph. person
associatedWith Papp, Joseph. person
associatedWith Pinter, Harold, 1930- person
associatedWith Reed, Ishmael, 1938- person
associatedWith Robbins, Jerome. person
associatedWith Robbins, Jerome. person
associatedWith Saddler, Donald person
associatedWith Selby, John. person
associatedWith Selby, John. person
associatedWith Sophocles. person
associatedWith Spinetti, Victor. person
associatedWith Spinetti, Victor. person
associatedWith Taylor, Cecil, 1929- person
associatedWith Taylor, Cecil, 1933- person
associatedWith Theatre Passe Muraille Archives. corporateBody
associatedWith Weldon, Fay. person
associatedWith Weldon, Fay. person
associatedWith White, Edgar, 1947- person
associatedWith Wood, Audrey, 1905- person
associatedWith Young People's Theatre Archives. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Subject
Jackson, George, 1941-1971
Race relations
African American authors
Johnson, Robert, d. 1938-
American drama--20th century
African Americans--Race identity
Autobiography--Afro--American authors
Autobiography--African American authors
Surrealism
American drama--Afro--American authors
Theater--20th century
Influence (Literary, artistic, etc.)
African American women--Drama
American drama--Women authors
Dramatists, American--20th century
Women--drama
American drama--African American authors
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1931-09-13

Americans

English

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