Day of Absence
(Included in the volume HAPPY ENDING AND DAY OF ABSENCE)
THE STORY: DAY OF ABSENCE. A satire about an imaginary Southern town where all the black people have suddenly disappeared. The only ones left are sick and lying in hospital beds, refusing to get well. Infants are crying because they are being tended to by strange parents. The Mayor pleads for the President, Governor, and the NAACP to send him "a jackpot of jigaboos." On a nationwide radio network he calls on the blacks, wherever they are, to come back. He shows them the cloths with which they wash cars and the brushes with which they shine shoes as sentimental reminders of the goodies that await them. In the end the blacks begin to reappear, as mysteriously as they had vanished, and the white community, sobered by what has transpired, breathes a sigh of relief at the return of the rather uneasy status quo. What will happen next is left unsaid, but the suggestion is strong that things will never quite be the same again.
Winner of the coveted Vernon Rice and Obie Awards. Coupled with HAPPY ENDING in its successful Off-Broadway production, this clever and enormously amusing satire is described by the author as "A Reverse Minstrel Show. "Here the all-black cast, made up in white face, recount the uproarious emergencies which occur when a Southern town is faced with the sudden and inexplicable disappearance of all its black citizens. "Laughter can be as effective as anger in telling white America what [Douglas Turner Ward] has on his mind." —NY Times. "…a gust of fresh air among racial plays." —Life Magazine.