“A Single Story”: African Women as Staged in US Theater

  • Lisa B. Thompson
Part of the African Histories and Modernities book series (AHAM)


Thompson’s chapter examines the representational strategies that contemporary African American cultural producers utilize when characterizing African women. Using Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s notion of “a single story” expressed in her 2009 Ted talk as a starting point, this essay focuses on how contemporary US theater artists predominantly depict African women as victims of sexual violence and abuse. She compares the themes explored in Suzan-Lori Park’s Obie Award-winning Venus (1996) and Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer prize winning Ruined (2009), with Danai Gurira’s critically acclaimed family drama Familiar (2016). Thompson considers Gurira’s Familiar an example of what she terms an Afropolitan theatrical aesthetic because of the play’s departure from the conventional rendering of African womanhood as sexual victims and its depiction of upper class Africans immigrants living in the American midwest.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa B. Thompson
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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