Williams-Witherspoon, Kimmika

Dr. Kimmika Williams-Witherspoon is Assistant Professor of Theater History at Temple University. She earned her Ph.D. from the same university. Winner of the PEW Charitable Trusts Fellowship in the Arts (Scriptwriting, 2000); the DaimlerChrysler National Poetry Competition (1999), and the Provost’s Arts Commission grant, she is the author of 8 books of poetry, nearly 20 plays, and has received numerous awards and honors.

Secret Messages in African American Theater
2006 0-7734-5642-2
This book is the first anthropological study on the political economy of African American theater and its use in contesting power and oppression through various ‘hidden’ scripts embedded in rituals, rhetorical strategies, and theatrical conventions, including dialogue, stagecraft, lighting, color, design, and spectacle. This ethnography focuses on the pre-production, production, and post-production of plays during the 2000-2001 theater season, with special emphasis on Ntozoke Shange’s world premiere of Sparkle: The Musical (an adaptation of Joel Schumacher’s 1976 hit screenplay of the same title). Productions of African American theater point to the real and concrete ways that classism, sexism and oppression affect and influence contemporary constructions of black identity, life, and culture, and what can be done to countermand them.