July 26, 1929 |
Chicago, Illinois, United States
|Occupation||Theatre director, playwright, actor|
|Spouse(s)||Donald Ryder (1957–present)|
Shauneille Perry was born on July 26, 1929, in Chicago, Illinois, to a prominent African-American family. She is the daughter of Graham T. Perry (1894–1960), one of the first African-American assistant attorneys-general for the State of Illinois and his wife, the former (Laura) Pearl Gant (1903–1957), one of the first African-American court reporters in Chicago. She is the niece by marriage of real-estate broker and political activist Carl Augustus Hansberry (who married her father's sister, Nannie Louise Perry) and his brother, Africanist scholar William Leo Hansberry. She is also the first cousin of playwright Lorraine Hansberry, Carl Hansberry's daughter.
Perry attended Howard University, where she was a member of the Howard Players under the direction of Owen Dodson. In 1950, she received a B.A. in drama from Howard. Her studies followed at the Goodman Theatre Art Institute in Chicago, where she received an M.A. in directing. She also studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.
In 1957, Perry married architect Donald Ryder in Chicago. Several months later, she received national exposure as the second place winner in the 1958 Picturama Contest, an essay competition sponsored by Ebony Magazine. She took advantage of the prize with her husband, which was a $4,000, three-week tour of Paris. By the end of the decade, the couple relocated to New York City, where it did not take long for her to establish herself as an actress.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, she acted in various productions on the New York stage including The Goose (1959), Dark of the Moon (1960), Talent '60 (1960), Ondine (1961), Clandestine on the Morning Line (1961) and The Octoroon (1961). Her work as Lilly Ruth, a pregnant girl in the short-lived off-Broadway production of Clandestine on the Morning Line received particular notice.
Despite her success as a performer, Perry became disenchanted with acting and turned her focus toward writing, directing, and raising a family. "Got tired of acting," she once said, "it was too slow; too much business."
After Vinnette Carroll, Perry became one of the first African-American women to direct on the New York stage. One of her early efforts was Mau Mau Room, at the Negro Ensemble Company. It was the first major stage production of a play written by J. E. Franklin. In 1971, she staged three different productions: Rosalie Pritchett, Sty of the Blind Pig and the original off-Broadway production of J. E. Franklin's play, Black Girl. The latter was made into a film, directed by Ossie Davis.
In addition to directing, Perry has written several plays including the book of the children's musical Mio, which she staged as a workshop production at the New Federal Theatre in the fall of 1971. It was later staged (with a different director) at the Henry Street Settlement in New York City in 1978. Other plays she either wrote or co-wrote include Last Night, Night Before (1971), Daddy Goodness (1979), and Things of the Heart: Marian Anderson's Story (1981).
Perry and her cousin Lorraine Hansberry were born less than a year apart and were very close. One summer when they were little girls, Lorraine's mother took them to Columbia, Tennessee where she and Perry's father had grown up. Along the way, her aunt pointed out the Kentucky hills where her father (Shauneille's and Lorraine's grandfather) George Perry had hidden after he escaped from slavery.
Years later, Shauneille was there when Lorraine had cancer and supported her. Hansberry named her as substitute executor of her estate after her ex-husband, Robert Barron Nemiroff.
Perry has three daughters. Her eldest child was named Lorraine in honor of her famous cousin.
|2006||The Taking of Miss Janie||Harry De Jur Playhouse / Abrons Arts Center|
|1998||In Dahomey||New Federal Theatre||Also writer|
|1993||In Bed with the Blues:The Adventure of Fishy Waters||New Federal Theatre||Written by Guy Davis|
|Looking Back||New Federal Theatre||Written by Micki Grant|
|1990||The Balm Yard||New Federal Theatre||Written by Don Kinch|
|1986||Williams & Walker||American Place Theatre||Written by Vincent Smith|
|1981||Keyboard||New Federal Theatre||Written by Matt Robinson|
|Love||New Federal Theatre||Written by Carolyn Rodgers|
|Who Loves the Dancer||New Federal Theatre||Written by Rob Penny|
|1979||Trouble in Mind||New Federal Theatre||Written by Alice Childress. Part of A Black Retrospective with four other plays.|
|1977||African Interlude||New Federal Theatre||Written by Martie Evans-Charles|
|Relationships||E.S.T. Theater||A program of two one-act plays by Philip Hayes Dean|
|1976||Showdown||New Federal Theatre||Written by Don Evans|
|1974||The Prodigal Sister||Theatre de Lys||Musical written by J. E. Franklin and Micki Grant, based on Franklin's play, Prodigal Daughter|
|1972||Jamimma||New Federal Theatre||Written by Martie Evans-Charles|
|1971||The Sty of the Blind Pig||St. Mark's Playhouse|
|Black Girl||Theatre de Lys||Written by J. E. Franklin|
|Rosalee Pritchett||St. Mark's Playhouse|
|1981||Things of the Heart: Marian Anderson's Story||New Federal Theatre||Directed by Denise Hamilton. Part of the Ethnic Heritage Series.|
|1979||Aunt Willie Pays a Call||Henry Street Settlement|
|1978||Mio||Henry Street Settlement||Book of musical.|
|1976||Clinton: An Urban Fairytale||New Heritage Repertory Theatre|
|1971||Mio||New Federal Theatre||Also directed.|
|Clandestine on the Morning Line||Lilly Ruth||Actors Playhouse|
|Ondine||Lenox Hill Playhouse|
|Dark of the Moon||Lenox Hill Playhouse|
|1959||The Goose||Sullivan Street Playhouse|
|2001||The Old Settler||PBS||Adaptation of the play by John Henry Redwood. Part of the series PBS Hollywood Presents|
|1981||Death of a Prophet|
|1978||Black Theatre: The Making of a Movement||Herself||California Newsreel||Documentary|
|1976||The Long Night||Howard Mahler Films|
|1971||Desperate Characters||Woman Doctor||ITC Films||Credited as Shauneille Ryder|
Awards and recognition
Perry is also the recipient of a Broadcast Media Award, a Fulbright scholarship, a New York State Council of the Arts Young Audiences Play Commission and a Black Rose of Excellence from Encore Magazine.
- King, Woodie (2003). The Impact of Race: Theatre and Culture (First ed.). New York: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books. pp. 145–146. ISBN 1-55783-579-9.
- "Fifteenth Census of the United States (1930) [database on-line], Chicago (28th Ward), Cook County, Illinois, Enumeration District: 16-1085, Page: 6A, Lines: 16-19, household of Golden H. Drain". United States: The Generations Network. 1930-04-04. Retrieved 2009-11-27.
- "Cook County, Illinois Birth Index, 1916-1935 [database on-line]". Chicago, Illinois: The Generations Network. Retrieved 2009-11-27.
- Peterson Jr. (Ed.), Bernard L. (1988). Contemporary Black American Playwrights and Their Plays: A Biographical Directory and Dramatic Index (First ed.). New York, Westport, Connecticut & London: Greenwood Press. pp. 379–380. ISBN 0-313-25190-8.
- "Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index, 1930-1960 [database on-line]". Chicago, Illinois: The Generations Network. Retrieved 2009-11-27.
- Johnson, John H., ed. (July 2, 1959). Jet (Chicago, Illinois: Johnson Publishing Company, Inc.) 16 (10): 50.
- Johnson, John H., ed. (November 26, 1959). "New York beat". Jet (Chicago, Illinois: Johnson Publishing Company, Inc.) 17 (5): 62.
- Oliver, Edith (1961). "Clandestine on the Morning Line". The New Yorker (New York, New York: F-R Pub. Corp.) 37: 120–121.
- Fuller, Hoyt W.; Doris E. Saunders (March 1962). "Perspectives". Negro Digest (Chicago, Illinois: Johnson Publishing Company, Inc.) 11 (5): 50.
- Johnson, John H., ed. (April 1973). "Black women 'star' behind scenes in New York drama". Ebony (Chicago, Illinois: Johnson Publishing Company, Inc.) 28 (6): 111.
- "Black Girl". New York, New York: Lortel Archives:Internet off-Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-11-27.
- Guernsey Jr. (Ed.), Otis L. (1979). The Best Plays of 1978-1979. New York & Toronto: Dodd, Mead & Company. p. 468. ISBN 0-396-07723-4.
- Scheader, Catherine (1998). Lorraine Hansberry: Playwright and Voice of Justice (First Library ed.). Springfield, New Jersey: Enslow Publishers. p. 24.
- Johnson, John H., ed. (February 18, 1965). "Divorced white husband gets most of Hansberry's rich estate". Jet (Chicago, Illinois: Johnson Publishing Company, Inc.) 27 (19): 27–29.
- "The Taking of Miss Janie". New York, New York: Lortel Archives:Internet off-Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-11-27.
- King, Woodie (2003). The Impact of Race: Theatre and Culture (First ed.). New York: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books. pp. 249–256. ISBN 1-55783-579-9.
- "Williams & Walker". New York, New York: Lortel Archives:Internet off-Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-11-27.
- Guernsey Jr. (Ed.), Otis L. (1979). The Best Plays of 1978-1979. New York & Toronto: Dodd, Mead & Company. p. 456. ISBN 0-396-07723-4.
- Gilbert, Ruth, ed. (May 2, 1977). "In and around town". New York Magazine (New York, New York: NYM Corporation) 10 (18): 21.
- "The Prodigal Sister". New York, New York: Lortel Archives:Internet off-Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-11-27.
- "The Sty of the Blind Pig". New York, New York: Lortel Archives:Internet off-Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-11-27.
- "Rosalee Pritchett". New York, New York: Lortel Archives:Internet off-Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-11-27.
- Gilbert, Ruth, ed. (December 10, 1979). "In and around town". New York Magazine (New York, New York: NYM Corporation) 12 (48): 23.