The Haitian Chronicles—Douglas Turner Ward
Influential and ground-breaking playwright, Douglas Turner Ward (1930-2021), was one of the central, driving forces of the Black Theater movement in the United States.
The Haitian Chronicles is Ward's graphic and brutal history of the Haitian Revolution. It is his final work and his first play to be published in several decades. Though much of Ward's earlier work had been short one-act satires, The Haitian Chronicles takes place across three long dramas: The Rise of Toussaint, The Fall of Toussaint and the one-man drama, Dessalines. The plays are an example of Ward's political commitment to satirizing, dramatizing, and revealing the structures of white supremacy throughout the history of so-called "civilization." The Haitian Chronicles is a self-consciously ambitious work of astounding narrative and theatrical scope, featuring over 80 speaking roles and logistically demanding production design.
Ward first became immersed in radical politics in Harlem, after moving to New York in 1948. There, he wrote for The Daily Worker and studied as an actor. He served as understudy to Sidney Poitier in A Raisin in the Sun, and began a long friendship with fellow actor Robert Hooks. His first play, Star of Liberty, written at the age of 19, followed the life of Nat Turner. Following the success of his early plays, Ward was asked to write an editorial for the New York Times in 1966. His article, titled "American Theatre: For Whites Only?," pointed to racism in mainstream culture, and earned Ward further recognition for his political and theatrical work.
With funding from the Ford Foundation, Ward co-founded the Negro Ensemble Company (NEC) in 1967. Over the next several decades, Ward directed dozens of NEC plays, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Soldier’s Play. With The Haitian Chronicles, Ward returned to the subject armed Black rebellion, taking as its subject matter the first and only slave revolt to successfully establish a free state. In these final historical works, Ward's dramatic onslaught—chronicling the brutality of French colonialism, and the bloody force it took to overthrow that regime—overwhelms the reader and calls into the question the very structures upon which contemporary society is built.
Published by Boo-Hooray. The Haitian Chronicles was a winner of the AIGA 50 Books & 50 Covers Award for the work of book designer Martha Ormiston.
372 pages / 5.5" x 8.3" / Softcover