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Andrea Hairston

Andrea Hairston is a Professor of Theater and Afro-American Studies at Smith College, as well as the Artistic Director of Chrysalis theatre. Her plays have been produced at Yale Rep, Rites and Reason, the Kennedy Center, Stage West, and on Public Radio and Television. She is the author of Mindscape, which won the Carl Brandon Parallax Award and was short-listed for the Philip K. Dick Award, Redwood and Wildfire, which won the James Tiptree Award and the Carl Brandon Kindred Award, and Lonely Stardust: Two Plays, a Speech, and Eight Essays.

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Will Do Magic For Small Change: Interesting characters, great ideas, and theater arts

Will Do Magic For Small Change by Andrea Hairston

Andrea Hairston’s 2016 novel Will Do Magic for Small Change spills out across traditional fantasy subcategories like the foamy head of a beer. There are urban fantasy elements, historical fantasy, science fiction and coming-of-age themes in this tale, which is set alternately in 1987 and the turn of the 20th century. And while I don’t think there is a subgenre called “performance magic” or “theater magic” yet, when there is, this book will be a seminal example because the love of the theater and performance runs all the way through it.

In 1987, Cinnamon struggles to find acceptance. She is African-American, tall for her age (fourteen), heavy, super-smart and a motor-mouth in a very particular way. She wants to sing and act on stage and she’s gifted, but racism and sexism block her efforts. Cinnamon’s father is in a... Read More

Master of Poisons: A challenging book

Master of Poisons by Andrea Hairston

Master of Poisons (2020) by Andrea Hairston is an epic fantasy set in an African-inspired world that is facing environmental devastation. Fertile land is turning into poison desert, and void-storms are a constant threat.

Djola is called Master of Poisons because, when both men were young, he saved the Arkhysian Emperor with his knowledge of antidotes. He was rewarded with the title and a place on the Emperor’s council. Now, he thinks he might be able to save the land with a legendary spell, but he needs to find it first — and in the meantime, he recommends that everyone live more simply, to put less strain on the environment.

Human nature being what it is, this goes about as well as you might expect. Djola is banished. This is at least partly a rus... Read More