Serial Black Face Janine Nabers, Marsha Norman

Yale Drama Series
Publication date:
12 Nov 2015
Yale University Press
128 pages: 229 x 140 x 9mm
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The 2014 winner of the Yale Drama Series
“The play does not have a tragic ending, though you will be certain that it must. But it is a tragic story. It is the tragedy of lives lived without hope of deliverance. . . .   I will leave you to read the play and determine how on earth we get to a satisfying ending to this tragic tale of a woman without a chance. But that ending is the genius of Nabers’s work, her faith in the ability of people with no chance, to find one.”—Marsha Norman, from the Foreword
The year is 1979 and a serial killer in Atlanta is abducting and murdering young black children. Against a backdrop of fear and uncertainty, playwright Janine Nabers explores the emotional battleground where an African-American single mother wars with her teenage daughter, each coping in her own way with personal tragedy and loss. The volatility of their situation is intensified when a severely damaged and devastatingly handsome stranger becomes an integral part of their lives.
Serial Black Face is the eighth winner of the DC Horn Foundation/Yale Drama Series Prize, selected by Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Marsha Norman. At once startling, engrossing, suspenseful, and exhilarating, Nabers’s powerful drama employs a real-life nightmare, the Atlanta Child Murders of the late 1970s, to incisively examine human frailty and the prickly complexities of a mother-daughter relationship. A stunning theatrical work, both thoughtful and profoundly moving, Serial Black Face is richly deserving of this year’s prize.

Janine Nabers is a 2013–2014 Aetna New Voices fellow at Hartford Stage and a 2013–2014 NYFA playwriting fellow. She holds an MFA from the New School for Drama and is currently staff writer for the Bravo cable network’s first scripted series, Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce. Her previous plays include Annie Bosh Is Missing, Welcome to Jesus, A Swell in the Ground, and the Sylvia Plath–Ted Hughes musical Mrs. Hughes. She divides her time between Los Angeles and New York City.

“Janine Nabers is an extraordinary writer—powerful and funny and brave. The crackling dialogue and the unswerving honesty are beautiful to experience.”—Marsha Norman