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The Red Letter Plays

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  406 ratings  ·  34 reviews
The playwright who "has burst through every known convention to invent a new theatrical language, like a jive Samuel Beckett, while exploding American cultural myths and stereotypes along the way [John Heilpern, New York Observer and Vogue]," has written two haunting riffs on Hawthorne’s The Scarlett Letter: In the Blood and Fucking A.

Hester La Negrita of In the Blood is a
Paperback, 224 pages
Published December 1st 2000 by Theatre Communications Group
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4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  406 ratings  ·  34 reviews

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Ryan Rebel
Dec 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I read an essay that Parks wrote about writing that I found obscure, unhelpful, and unnecessarily eccentric. Thank God her writing is much better than I thought it was going to be.

The first thing to note is her distinct voice. It really is one of a kind. Her plays are abstract, archetypal, dialect-filled, and limit-pushing romps. Yeah, they're romps.

I occasionally felt alienated by her universes, but her dialogue is engaging and her thematic threads are tight. I'd recommend this if you're lookin
Jan 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was my second go around with In The Blood which I still like but Fucking A was Fucking Great. Grand in scale, The Handmaid’s Tale if it were written by Sophocles. Suzan-Lori Parks knocks it out of the park (whoops) with a plot you can see coming but that keeps you gripped in its inevitability.
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
suzan-lori parks is so good and such a strong voice and inspires me honestly

also good timing wrt me reading this considering we did a unit on the scarlet letter in my english class. id rather read this tho, any day of the week
Dec 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
I've just finished teaching In the Blood to my tenth grade English class. It is a revision of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter.
Emily Fortuna
May 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
Again, good, well-written plays, just not my personal cup of tea.
Dec 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing

"In the Blood" This was a retelling of The Scarlet Letter, where Hester is a black single mother on welfare with five children from five different fathers. Susan Lori Parks criticizes society and the inefficiency of social services to help the people who need it most. Poor Hester! She was so horribly taken advantage of by each of the adults. This was so tragic, but like satisfyingly tragic somehow.

I would love to see these performed. The five kids also played five adults, and I think
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dystopia
Two plays, both based on themes from The Scarlet Letter, both containing similar ideas (shame, motherhood, poverty, prison, race, illiteracy), but explored in different ways. In the Blood is set in the modern world, and the issues faced by Hester La Negrita are similar to those that show up in the news all the time. Whereas Fucking A is set in a strange, unnamed dystopian nation with an odd dialect, hereditary mayoralty, and the practice of branding certain people who have committed crimes. Both ...more
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I saw a production if In the Blood last year and was blown away by it. The blurb on the back of this books calls these plays "Classical tragedies", In the Blood played almost like a fairytale. All evil players and morals and nobody wins in the end.

Fucking A is by far my favorite. I find myself wanting a full length novel set in this world. I want *more*. This one is a tragedy if ever one was written, and I loved every line. I would love to see it one day.
Feb 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
I loved loved loved Venus by Suzan-Lori Parks and I'm hoping these plays will be great too. I'm not somebody that would normally read plays, but she is so great I'm going to give it a try. But I really recommend Venus to anyone out there.
Feb 20, 2011 rated it liked it
I don't really know how I felt about these plays. The tension throughout was constant while you are trying to figure out what is happening, but I'm not sure I enjoyed reading them. The author is a good writer, I just think the plays need to be seen more to be fully appreciated. They are good stories though, just sad.
Mar 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
I was lucky enough to see the Public Theatre production of "Fucking A" with Mos Def and S. Epatha Merkerson and I found it to be an innovative and exciting (if not entirely fleshed out) experience. This is one where you have to see it to really get it - reading it is not enough!
Feb 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Suzan-Lori Parks writes powerful plays. Short and easy to read. These plays must be incredible when performed because she clearly has a lot to say, but also leaves a great deal up to the interpretation of the director.
Mar 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
i wasn't really on the SweetnLori Parks hype train until i read these two plays and i have to say that these are really kind of unbelievable--raw, strange, moving, and completely original. "In the Blood" is now officially one of my favorite things on Earth.
Nov 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In The Blood is creative and insightful. Great read!!
Nov 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: class, drama
Heartbreakingly good.
Jan 29, 2009 is currently reading it
If you don't know Suzan-Lori Parks, you should.
Daze Arev
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There is a realism about the social issues Parks paints which culminates to an unpredictable, lamentable tragedy. It's a mix of Dickens meets Shakespeare.
Rachel Pollock
Had to read Fucking A for a class. Bleak.
Brittany Elaine
Jul 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An amazing playwright who makes her audience think. If you read her plays and aren't moved, check your pulse.
way too bloody for my taste.
Jan 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
These plays are raw, disturbing and quite complex--signature Suzan-Lori Parks.
Dec 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays-theater
In the blood—5.
Fucking A-3.
Blood is devastating modern rewrite. God. That ending.

A is similarly tragic. Little more scattered though. Unclear about purpose of fake foreign language.
sacha kenton
Apr 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
she is amazing.
Nov 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
The plays in this collection are tough-going. . . not exactly a fun read. They are powerful, however, and one cannot help but be caught up by Parks' vibrant imagination and language.
Alex Bleach
Mar 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommended to Alex by:
Shelves: used-to-own
Pretty good, but some of it reads like an out-take from a bad Spike Lee film.
Gabino G. Ocampo
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow! Amazing plays, specially In the Blood. The colloquial speaking of the characters, the troubles that real people in extreme circumstances go through, a mother's love above all, etc... It caught my heart and made me relate and made me be in these social problems. It was very tragic in the Greek sense and I loved it for that.
Kurt Ostrow
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
HESTER: My kids is mine. I get rid of em what do I got? Nothing. I got nothing ow, but if I lose them I got less than nothing. (28)

HESTER: Sometimes you cant win. No matter what you do. (32)

The RED LETTER PLAYS are dark. My classmate talked about how Hester, her children, and other (women) characters suffer such merciless abjection (at the hands of men, other women, the church, the state) that it circles back on itself to make you realize holy shit our society's totally totally fucked up. I get
Sep 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: gritty readers, activists
Recommended to Cassie by: Shareef
Suzan-Lori Parks writes about the dark and gritty world that surrounds women in desperate situations. The world is not kind, it is not fair, and it is not pretty. This review is strictly for "In the Blood" which is described as an urban Scarlet Letter. Hester is a prostitute with five children from five different father who are both her pride and joy and her reminders of her haunted past. Hester confronts the people in her life who try to take everything from her with disastrous results. This is ...more
rated it really liked it
Aug 27, 2017
rated it really liked it
Jan 30, 2008
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Suzan-Lori Parks is an award-winning American playwright and screenwriter. She was a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant in 2001, and received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2002. She is married to blues musician Paul Oscher.