MacArthur Fellows Program

MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of 2001

Suzan-Lori Parks


Valencia, California

Age: 38 at time of award

Published October 1, 2001

Suzan-Lori Parks is a playwright whose risk-taking, dramatic presentations reflect and refract social imagery from American culture and history. By creating compelling stories and characters that dramatize the complex influences that form both individual and collective identity, her explorations challenge us to reconsider our perceptions of others and ourselves. In Venus (1997), Parks ignores the common conventions of stage realism to call attention to the ambivalent depiction of racism, sexism, and economic oppression seen in postbellum U.S. theatrical productions. By contrast, In the Blood (1999) presents us with a meditation on social responsibility and the treatment of the most indigent. These and other works are characterized by her signature use of provocative stagecraft, gritty colloquialisms, and wordplay inspired by the looped and spiraling forms of jazz.

Suzan-Lori Parks received a B.A. (1985) from Mount Holyoke College. She is the author of numerous plays, including The Sinner’s Place (1985), Betting on the Dust Commander (1988), Devotees in the Garden of Love (1992), The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World (1992), The America Play (1993), In the Blood (1999), Topdog/Underdog (2001) and 365 Days/365 Plays (2005). She was the director of the Audrey Skirball-Kenis Theater Projects Writing for Performance Program at CalArts (2000-2004).

Last updated January 1, 2006.

Suzan-Lori Parks In the Media

About the Fellows Program

The MacArthur Fellows Program awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. Learn More

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