Richardson, Willis

(1889-1977)
   Born in Wilmington, North Carolina, Willis Richardson moved to Washington, D.C., with his family and worked as a clerk in the U.S. Department of Engraving and Printing. Richardson's first play, The Deacon's Awakening, was published in Crisis magazine. He became the first African American playwright to have a nonMusicAL work on Broadway when his one-act folk drama The Chip Woman's Fortune (1923) was presented at the Frazee Theatre under the auspices of the Lafayette Theatre following performances at Chicago's Ethiopian Art Theatre. Richardson's play Mortgaged was published in The New Negro in 1925, and that same year he won Crisis magazine's playwriting contest with Compromise, the first play by a black writer staged by Cleveland's Charles Gilpin Players. He won the Crisis award again in 1926 for Boot-Black Lover and in 1928 was the recipient of the Edith Schwab Cup at Yale for his play The Broken Banjo. Richardson founded the Washington, D.C., wing of the KRIGWA Players, edited three collections of black-themed plays, and wrote 30 one-acts and five full-length plays focusing on African American history and black life in America.

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