This week on From the Vault we present the earliest known recording of Douglas Turner Ward’s play Day of Absence, the story about a small town in the Deep South that descends into economic panic when it discovers that its entire black population has vanished, and, accordingly, its blue-collar labor force. While Douglas Turner Ward gained fame as an original cast member of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, it was his provocative play Day of Absence where he ultimately earned notoriety. Pacifica Radio invited Ward and the Day of Absence cast to the WBAI studios in May 1963 for the first-ever live taping of the play, which was broadcast two weeks later on June 11, 1963. Ward’s play would eventually premiere at the Saint Mark’s Playhouse in Manhattan in 1965.
From the Vault is presented through the Pacifica Radio Archives Preservation and Access Project, funded in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, past grants from the Grammy Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the American Archive funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, along with the generous support of Pacifica Radio Listeners.
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