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Kennedy, Adrienne

Columbus

Born: September 13, 1931

Ohio connection: Former Resident

Adrienne Kennedy was born Adrienne Lita Hawkins, daughter of Cornell Wallace and Etta (Haugabrook) Hawkins, in 1931 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. She received a B.A. from Ohio State University in 1953, and did graduate work in creative writing at Columbia University, 1954-56. She married Joseph Kennedy in 1953, and they had two sons, Joseph and Adam. The couple divorced in 1966. Adrienne Kennedy has lectured at a number of universities over the years, including Yale, Princeton, Brown, Harvard, and the University of California at Berkeley. Her major career has been as a playwright. She is considered by many to be one of the most influential contemporary African-American writers. One of her grandfathers was a wealthy white peach farmer, and this aspect of her background seems to have had a significant effect on her works, many of which have multi-racial plots. Some of her plays are Funnyhouse of a Negro, The Owl Answers, A Beast Story, Black Children's Day, Orestes and Electra, and Diary of Lights. She has also written a memoir, People Who Led to My Plays, and a novel, Deadly Triplets: A Theatre Mystery and Journal. Kennedy’s plays are considered to be complex, introspective, and poetic. Kennedy joined with five other women playwrights in 1971 to form the Women`s Theatre Council, a cooperative designed to promote the works of women playwrights. Adrienne Kennedy resides in New York City, and continues to lecture in colleges and universities around the country.

Awards:
Obie Award from Village Voice, 1964, for Funnyhouse of a Negro; Guggenheim memorial fellowship, 1967; Rockefeller grants, 1967-69, 1974, 1976; National Endowment for the Arts grant, 1973; CBS fellow, School of Drama, 1973; Creative Artists Public Service grant, 1974; Yale fellow, 1974-75; Stanley Award for play writing; New England Theatre Conference grant; Manhattan Borough President's award, 1988, and American Book Award, Before Columbus Foundation, both for People Who Led to My Plays; National Endowment for the Arts award, 1993; Pierre Lecomte du Novy Award, Lincoln Center, 1994; American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, 1994; Lila Wallace Award, Reader's Digest.

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