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Day of Absence / Happy Ending (Illuminations)

Day of Absence / Happy Ending (Illuminations)

Current price: $15.95
Publication Date: July 16th, 2024
Theatre Communications Group
Available for Preorder


Two sharp, satirical one-act plays from a major leading figure in late 20th century Black theatre.

In this double-volume of two one-act comedies, Douglas Turner Ward blends biting satire, farce, and absurdism while turning a sharp eye on the social, moral, and racial biases that permeate American society. In Day of Absence, all of the Black residents of an unnamed Southern town suddenly disappear, leaving the white residents to fend for themselves. As babies cry without their caretakers and factory production grinds to a halt, the town quickly descends into chaos when the white townspeople find themselves utterly incapable of maintaining a functioning society. Happy Ending follows two sisters, Ellie and Vi, who work as a maid and laundress for the wealthy Harrison family. When Mr. Harrison discovers his wife's infidelity, the sisters are faced with the grim prospect of the dissolution of the household--which Ellie and Vi rely on to maintain their lives more than the Harrisons realize.

About the Author

Douglas Turner Ward was a highly influential American playwright, actor, director, and producer. He was born in Louisiana in 1930 and raised in New Orleans. Ward moved to New York City in 1949, where he was initially employed as a journalist. He studied playwriting at the Paul Mann Workshop. He began his Off-Broadway career in 1956 as an actor in Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh and in 1959 went on to be cast in a minor role in the Broadway production of A Raisin in the Sun. Guided by a desire to continue the legacy of W. E. B. Du Bois, Ward was determined to create theater that was primarily written by, performed for, and representative of African American people. Ward, Robert Hooks, and Gerald Krone formed the Negro Ensemble Company in 1965. Ward made his playwriting debut that same year with two one acts, Happy Ending and Day of Absence. In 1967, the Negro Ensemble Company officially opened with Ward serving as artistic director, where he continued to act, direct, and write plays. Ward's involvement with the Negro Ensemble Company continued until his death in February 2021.