Glenda Dickerson, American theatre director, died he was 66.
was an iconic director, folklorist, adaptor, writer, choreographer,
actor, black theatre organizer, and educator died he was 66.. She is known throughout
the American Theater as a consummate promoter of a “womanist” direction
in the theater and her work focused on folklore, myths, black legends,
and classical works reinterpreted. She worked in venues including the Biltmore Theatre (Broadway), Circle in the Square
(New York City), Lorraine Hansberry Theatre (San Francisco), Ford’s
Theatre and the Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.).In 1971, she received
an Emmy nomination and in 1972 a Peabody Award.
(February 9, 1945 – January 12, 2012)
She conceived and/or adapted numerous vehicles for the stage from
various dramatic and non-dramatic sources, including the “miracle play”:
Jesus Christ, Lawd Today; Owen’s Song; The Unfinished Song; Rashomn; Torture of Mothers; Jump at the Sun; Aunt Jemima and the Traveling Menstrual Show and Every Step I Take. She conceived and directed Eel Catching in Setauket: A Living Portrait of a Community,
an oral history, creative performance project which documented the
lives of the African-American Christian Avenue community in Setauket,
Long Island. She performed in her one-woman shows, Saffron Persephone
Brown: The Flower-storm of a Brown Woman; Spreading Lies; and in the
Trojan Women: A Tale of Devastation for Two Voices.
She was author of African American Theater: A Cultural Companion.
She also completed a 2-disk DVD, “What’s Cookin’ in the Kitchen? A
Planetary Portrait 9/11/01 – 9/11/04,” which documented her “Kitchen
Prayers” series. Until 2007, Kitchen Prayers Performance Dialogues on
9/11 and global loss were performed annually under the auspices of The
Project for Transforming thru Performing: re/placing Black Womanly
At the University of Michigan she was Head of the African American Theater Minor and served as Director of the Center for World Performance Studies. Before Michigan, She was head of the Department of Drama and Dance at Spelman College and she taught at Rutgers University
both, the New Brunswick and Newark campuses. Professor Dickerson also
was an Assistant Professor of Directing in the Department of Theater at Howard University and Chair of the Theater Department at The Duke Ellington School of the Arts (formerly, The School of the Arts at Western).
She held the distinction, along with Vinnette Carroll,
of being one of the few African-American women to have directed on
Broadway and she has directed such actors as Debbie Allen, Lynn
Whitfield, Charles Brown, Phillip Michael Thomas, Robert Townsend,
Clifton Powell, and many others.
Awards, honors, and recognition
Ms. Glenda Dickerson received the inaugural Shirley Verrett Award in November 2011.,
which was established to honor the legacy of the late internationally
acclaimed opera singer, Shirley Verrett, who was also the James Earl
Jones Distinguished University Professor of Voice at the University of Michigan‘s
School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. The award celebrates Dickerson’s
dedication to promoting the success of women of color students and
faculty in the creative arts in and for her commitment to diversity as
part of the University’s mission.
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