Shauneille Perry

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Shauneille Perry
Born (1929-07-26) July 26, 1929 (age 85)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Occupation Theatre director, playwright, actor
Years active 1950s–present
Spouse(s) Donald Ryder (1957–present)

Shauneille Perry (July 26, 1929 –) is an American stage director and playwright. She was one of the first African-American women to direct off-Broadway.

Biography[edit]

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.[1][2][3]

Perry attended Howard University, where she was a member of the Howard Players under the direction of Owen Dodson.[1] 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.[4]

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.[5][6][7]

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).[4] Her work as Lilly Ruth, a pregnant girl in the short-lived off-Broadway production of Clandestine on the Morning Line received particular notice.[8][9]

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."[1]

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.[10] 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.[11] 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.[4] It was later staged (with a different director) at the Henry Street Settlement in New York City in 1978.[12] 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).[4]

Perry has also written "Sounds of the City," a 15-minute daily soap opera that aired on the Mutual Black Network in the mid-1970s.[4]

Personal[edit]

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.[13]

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.[14]

Perry has three daughters. Her eldest child was named Lorraine in honor of her famous cousin.

Selected Credits[edit]

Theatre[edit]

Directing[edit]

Year Production Theatre(s) Notes
2006 The Taking of Miss Janie[15] Harry De Jur Playhouse / Abrons Arts Center
1998 In Dahomey[16] New Federal Theatre Also writer
1993 In Bed with the Blues:The Adventure of Fishy Waters[16] New Federal Theatre Written by Guy Davis
Looking Back[16] New Federal Theatre Written by Micki Grant
1990 The Balm Yard[16] New Federal Theatre Written by Don Kinch
1986 Williams & Walker[16][17] American Place Theatre Written by Vincent Smith
1981 Keyboard[16] New Federal Theatre Written by Matt Robinson
Love[16] New Federal Theatre Written by Carolyn Rodgers
Who Loves the Dancer[16] New Federal Theatre Written by Rob Penny
1979 Trouble in Mind[16][18] New Federal Theatre Written by Alice Childress. Part of A Black Retrospective with four other plays.
1977 African Interlude[16] New Federal Theatre Written by Martie Evans-Charles
Relationships[19] E.S.T. Theater A program of two one-act plays by Philip Hayes Dean
1976 Showdown[16] New Federal Theatre Written by Don Evans
1974 The Prodigal Sister[16][20] Theatre de Lys Musical written by J. E. Franklin and Micki Grant, based on Franklin's play, Prodigal Daughter
1972 Jamimma[16] New Federal Theatre Written by Martie Evans-Charles
1971 The Sty of the Blind Pig[21] St. Mark's Playhouse
Black Girl[11][16] Theatre de Lys Written by J. E. Franklin
Rosalee Pritchett[22] St. Mark's Playhouse

Writing[edit]

Year Production Theatre(s) Notes
1981 Things of the Heart: Marian Anderson's Story[4][16] New Federal Theatre Directed by Denise Hamilton. Part of the Ethnic Heritage Series.
1979 Aunt Willie Pays a Call[23] Henry Street Settlement
1978 Mio[12] Henry Street Settlement Book of musical.
1976 Clinton: An Urban Fairytale[4] New Heritage Repertory Theatre
1971 Mio[4] New Federal Theatre Also directed.

Acting[edit]

Year Production Role Theatre(s) Notes
1961 Octoroon Grace Phoenix Theatre
Clandestine on the Morning Line[8][9] Lilly Ruth Actors Playhouse
Ondine Lenox Hill Playhouse
1960 Talent '60
Dark of the Moon Lenox Hill Playhouse
1959 The Goose Sullivan Street Playhouse

Television[edit]

Writing[edit]

Year Production Network Notes
2001 The Old Settler PBS Adaptation of the play by John Henry Redwood. Part of the series PBS Hollywood Presents

Motion Pictures[edit]

Acting[edit]

Year Title Role Distributor Notes
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[edit]

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.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c 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. 
  2. ^ "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. 
  3. ^ "Cook County, Illinois Birth Index, 1916-1935 [database on-line]". Chicago, Illinois: The Generations Network. Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k 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. 
  5. ^ "Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index, 1930-1960 [database on-line]". Chicago, Illinois: The Generations Network. Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  6. ^ Johnson, John H., ed. (July 2, 1959). Jet (Chicago, Illinois: Johnson Publishing Company, Inc.) 16 (10): 50. 
  7. ^ Johnson, John H., ed. (November 26, 1959). "New York beat". Jet (Chicago, Illinois: Johnson Publishing Company, Inc.) 17 (5): 62. 
  8. ^ a b Oliver, Edith (1961). "Clandestine on the Morning Line". The New Yorker (New York, New York: F-R Pub. Corp.) 37: 120–121. 
  9. ^ a b Fuller, Hoyt W.; Doris E. Saunders (March 1962). "Perspectives". Negro Digest (Chicago, Illinois: Johnson Publishing Company, Inc.) 11 (5): 50. 
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ a b "Black Girl". New York, New York: Lortel Archives:Internet off-Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  12. ^ a b 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. 
  13. ^ Scheader, Catherine (1998). Lorraine Hansberry: Playwright and Voice of Justice (First Library ed.). Springfield, New Jersey: Enslow Publishers. p. 24. 
  14. ^ 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. 
  15. ^ "The Taking of Miss Janie". New York, New York: Lortel Archives:Internet off-Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o 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. 
  17. ^ "Williams & Walker". New York, New York: Lortel Archives:Internet off-Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  18. ^ 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. 
  19. ^ Gilbert, Ruth, ed. (May 2, 1977). "In and around town". New York Magazine (New York, New York: NYM Corporation) 10 (18): 21. 
  20. ^ "The Prodigal Sister". New York, New York: Lortel Archives:Internet off-Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  21. ^ "The Sty of the Blind Pig". New York, New York: Lortel Archives:Internet off-Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  22. ^ "Rosalee Pritchett". New York, New York: Lortel Archives:Internet off-Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  23. ^ Gilbert, Ruth, ed. (December 10, 1979). "In and around town". New York Magazine (New York, New York: NYM Corporation) 12 (48): 23. 

External links[edit]