Teacher Guide

Topdog/Underdog Lesson Plan

About the Author

Born in Fort Knox, Kentucky in 1963, Suzan-Lori Parks moved frequently in her childhood due to her father's military career. Parks attended Mount Holyoke College, where she took a class with acclaimed African-American writer and thinker James Baldwin. Baldwin became a mentor of Parks', and encouraged her to begin writing plays.

As a young woman, Parks moved to New York City, where she produced her first play, “Betting on the Dust Commander,” in a bar. Parks received increasing esteem in the New York theater world for her subsequent plays, including The America Play (1994), Venus (1996), and In the Blood (1999).

Topdog/Underdog, written in 2001, was initially produced at the Public...

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