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Topdog Diaries

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Topdog Diaries chronicles the creation of Suzan-Lori Parks’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Topdog/Underdog.” It begins airing on PBS stations Thursday, October 31st (check local listings) as part of the Stage on Screen series.

We see Parks writing with a pen and on a manual typewriter, being interviewed by NPR, and getting married to Blues musician Paul Oscher (who did the music for the documentary and writes about playing with Muddy Waters).

One of the best sections of the documentary shows Parks working with director George C. Wolfe and actors Jeffrey Wright and Don Cheadle as they prepare for the opening at the Public Theater in July of 2001. The only other channel that would present the dialogue without being bleeped (which is annoying anytime, but particularly when two great actors are at work) is HBO.

Mos Def who was in the Broadway production of Topdog/Underdog with Wright was profiled in the New York Times and there was also a review and an essay on Parks’ use of Lincoln in her work.

Until the play travels to San Francisco and other cities next year, this will be the best way to get a sense of why Parks won the Pulitzer.

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