Zakiyyah Alexander On Adrienne Kennedy
Playwright Zakiyyah Alexander discusses writer Adrienne Kennedy. Her unprecedented play Funnyhouse of a Negro won the Obie in the sixties, launching a career that defies categorization. Lyrical, violent, dreamlike, deeply personal but not naturalistic— critic Alisa Solomon describes Adrienne’s work as “the process of turning memory into meaning.” In this interview Zakiyyah describes her recent experiences with iconoclast Adrienne Kennedy.
Director: Julie Hébert
DP: Kim Culotta
Producer/Sound: Courtney Graham
Co-Producer/Interviewee: Jill Klein
PA: Sarah Michelle Witt
Editors: Farrel Levy, Franzis Muller
WRITER / ACTOR
Zakiyyah Alexander is the author of several plays including 10 Things To Do Before I Die (Second Stage Uptown), and Sick? (Summer Play Festival). A native New Yorker, former resident member of New Dramatists, a graduate of the Yale School of Drama (MFA in playwriting) and, most recently, a writer on the television show Grey’s Anatomy, her work has been seen and developed all over the country. She is currently working on a musical with composer, Imani Uzuri (featuring the poetry of Sonia Sanchez).
Adrienne Kennedy has been a force in American theater since the early 1960s, influencing generations of playwrights with her hauntingly fragmentary lyrical dramas. Her plays, many of them “autobiographically inspired”, explore issues of race, kinship, and violence in American society.
Photo of Funnyhouse of a Negro by Mike Lovett, Brandeis Theater Company. Photo of Adrienne Kennedy from Bomb Magazine, courtesy of Signature Theater.