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Blues for an Alabama Sky

Blues for an Alabama Sky

By Pearl Cleage
Imprint: Nick Hern Books
Paperback : 9781839040993, 104 pages, September 2022


New York City, 1930. Following a decade of explosive creativity, the Harlem Renaissance is starting to feel the bite of the Great Depression.

In the face of hardship and dwindling opportunity, Angel and her friends battle to keep their artistic dreams alive. But, when Angel falls for a stranger from Alabama, their romance forces the group to make good on their ambitions, or give in to the reality of the time.

Pearl Cleage's Blues for an Alabama Sky was first performed in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1995. It was revived at the National Theatre, London, in 2022, directed by Lynette Linton, with a cast including Samira Wiley and Giles Terera.

Pearl Cleage is a celebrated American playwright, novelist, poet and political activist, and was one of the first Black women in America to achieve national recognition as a dramatist. Her plays, also including Flyin' West and Bourbon at the Border, provide a remarkable and penetrating look at the African-American experience over the last century.


"Deliciously funny and deeply affecting... a bittersweet delight."

- Evening Standard

"A breathless whirl of Jazz Age joy and blues... a seamy pleasure... glorious."

- Telegraph

"A supreme achievement... I've rarely seen a play in which the imprint of identification and affection for the protagonists is so strong and so involving. It's a work that makes you want to lean in, holding your breath as their fortunes shift and stir, hoping for the best but somehow always fearing the worst... It has a humanity that provokes profound emotion."

- WhatsOnStage

"Scintillating... will catapult [Pearl Cleage] to everyone's attention and precipitate a frantic scramble to uncover other gems from her back catalogue... quite the best evening I have spent at the National in a long time."

- iNews

"Wonderful and bittersweet... There's more than a hint of Tennessee Williams in Cleage's story, but she brings her own quick wit and quiet understanding to her characters, which means you grow deeply attached to them."

- Financial Times

"Transfixing... an old-fashioned melodrama with sly winks to Ibsen and Tennessee Williams, but the issues [Cleage] addresses are freshly resonant... A tale for our times."

- Guardian

"Nothing short of mesmerising... leaves audiences on the edge of their seat."

- Broadway World

"Compelling... makes a fraught, fascinating era of Black cultural history feel real and alive... And it paints rich, complex friendships with a warmth that stays with you, long after its final notes have faded."

- Time Out