Their Eyes Were Watching God

Adaptations for theater, film and radio

  • In 1983, the graduate repertory Hilberry Theater at Wayne State University produced To Gleam It Around, To Show My Shine, which is based on Their Eyes Were Watching God. The play was written by Bonnie Lee Moss Rattner and directed by Von Washington.
  • In 1988, To Gleam It Around, To Show My Shine was produced by the Crossroads Theatre in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The production was enhanced by an award from The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts' Fund for New American Plays. Denise Nicholas played Janie, Novella Nelson played Pheoby. Rick Khan directed. Writing in The New York Times on October 16, 1988, in a review entitled "Luminous' Drama On Black Woman's Struggle", Alvin Klein said, of "the dialogue that is so pure and lyrical, it positively sings and pierces the heart. Out of an unutterably beautiful book, a luminous play has evolved."
  • In 2003, To Gleam It Around, To Show My Shine a.k.a. Eatonville was to have opened at the ATA (American Theatre for Actors) in co-production with Amas Musical Theatre and Sage Hill Productions, with a score composed by Wynton Marsalis. (see "Wynton Marsalis Pens Music for Rattner's 'Eatonville'", Playbill, August 21, 2003.)
  • Oprah Winfrey served as executive producer of the made-for-TV adaptation Their Eyes Were Watching God in 2005. Harpo Productions sponsored the film directed by Darnell Martin and with a screenplay written by Suzan-Lori Parks, Misan Sagay, and Bobby Smith, Jr. The show was broadcast on ABC on March 6, 2005, at 9 pm. Catering to its TV audience, the film largely avoided the more controversial themes of race, gender, and power. Karen Valby of Entertainment Weekly comments, "While the book chews on meaty questions of race and identity, the movie largely resigns itself to the realm of sudsy romance."[41] New York Times critic Virginia Heffernan writes, "the film is less a literary tribute than a visual fix of Harlequin Romance: Black Southern Series—all sensual soft-core scenes and contemporary, accessible language."[42]
  • In 2011, the novel was adapted into a radio play for BBC World Drama, dramatized by Patricia Cumper. The play first aired on February 19, 2011.[43]
  • In 2012, a live radio play performance of Their Eyes Were Watching God written by Arthur Yorinks was broadcast on February 29 and March 1 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the book's publication.[44]

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