As the first African American woman to win an Obie Award, Alice Childress (1916~1994) is an important playwright in the history of American theatre, and especially she is considered as the only black woman playwright in America whose plays have been popular for more than four decades in the 20th century. Childress is famous for portraying black people realistically to show how they survive with dignity in the racist society. Childress’s plays always center on black gender relations. Instead of focusing on black women only or black men only, Childress likes to review the relationship between black men and women to expose the inner conflicts within black communities. In Wine in the Wilderness (1969), Childress discusses the possibility of black love when most of black people struggle to survive in the harsh reality in the 1960s. The play depicts a black male artist’s illusions of love based on his ignorance of African American culture and his sexist and classist attitude toward black working-class women. Through a careful text analysis and feminist insights, the paper argues that bad economic conditions and racism against black people at the time are not the only reasons that limit the possibility of love between blacks, but the false consciousness of class and gender within the black communities also prevent themselves from a harmonious and equal gender relations.
Yi-chin Shih, Tamkang University, Taiwan