African American Performance and Theater History: A Critical Reader

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Harry Justin Elam, David Krasner
Oxford University Press, 2001 - Literary Criticism - 367 pages
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African American Performance and Theater History is an anthology of critical writings that explores the intersections of race, theater, and performance in America. Assembled by two esteemed scholars in black theater, Harry J. Elam, Jr. and David Krasner, and composed of essays from acknowledged authorities in the field, this anthology is organized into four sections representative of the ways black theater, drama, and performance interact and enact continual social, cultural, and political dialogues.

Ranging from a discussion of dramatic performances of Uncle Tom's Cabin to the Black Art Movement of the 1960s and early 1970s, articles gathered in the first section, "Social Protest and the Politics of Representation," discuss the ways in which African American theater and performance have operated as social weapons and tools of protest. The second section of the volume, "Cultural Traditions, Cultural Memory and Performance," features, among other essays, Joseph Roach's chronicle of the slave performances at Congo Square in New Orleans and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.'s critique of August Wilson's cultural polemics. "Intersections of Race and Gender," the third section, includes analyses of the intersections of race and gender on the minstrel stage, the plight of black female choreographers at the inception of Modern Dance, and contemporary representations of black homosexuality by PomoAfro Homo. Using theories of performance and performativity, articles in the fourth section, "African American Performativity and the Performance of Race," probe into the ways blackness and racial identity have been constructed in and through performance. The final section is a round-table assessment of the past and present state of African American Theater and Performance Studies by some of the leading senior scholars in the field--James V. Hatch, Sandra L. Richards, and Margaret B. Wilkerson.

Revealing the dynamic relationship between race and theater, this volume illustrates how the social and historical contexts of production critically affect theatrical performances of blackness and their meanings and, at the same time, how African American cultural, social, and political struggles have been profoundly affected by theatrical representations and performances. This one-volume collection is sure to become an important reference for those studying black theater and an engrossing survey for all readers of African American literature.

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African-American performance and theater history: a critical reader

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In this chronicle of New York nonmusical theater, every play produced in the years 1969 to 2000, from Broadway to Off Off Broadway, is discussed in four chapters, with seasons grouped by topical ... Read full review


Uncle Toms Women
Political Radicalism and Artistic Innovation in the Works of Lorraine Hansberry
The Block Arts Movement Performance NeoOrality and the Destruction of the White Thing
Beyond a Liberal Audience
Cultural Traditions Cultural Memory and Performance
Deep Skin Reconstructing Congo Square
Calling on the Spirit The Performativity of Black Womens Faith in the Baptist Church Spiritual Traditions and Its Radical Possibilities for Resistance
The Chitlin Circuit
Attending Walt Whitman High The Lessons of Homo Afro Homos Dark Fruit
African American Performativity and the Performance of Race
Acting Out Miscegenation
Birminghams Federal Theater Project Negro Unit The Administration of Race
The Block Performer and the Performance of Blackness The Escape or A Leap to Freedom by William Wells Brown and No Plate To Be Somebody ...
The Costs of ReMembering Whats at Stake in Gayl Joness Corregidora
Roundtable Discussion with Senior Scholars
African American Theater The State of the Profession Past Present and Future

Audience and Africanisms in August Wilsons Dramaturgy A Case Study
Intersections of Race and Gender
Black Minstrelsy and Double Inversion Circa 1890
Block Salome Exoticism Dance and Racial Myths
Uh Tiny Land Mass Just Outside of My Vocabulary Expression of Creative Nomadism and Contemporary African Ametican Playwtights
Change Is Coming
Selected Bibliography

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About the author (2001)

Harry J. Elam, Jr. is Christensen Professor for the Humanities, Director of the Introduction to the Humanities, Director of Graduate Studies for Drama, and Director of the Committee on Black Performing Arts at Stanford University. David Krasner is Director of Undergraduate Theater Studies at Yale University, where he teaches theater history, acting, and directing. His book, Resistance, Parody, and Double Consciousness in African-American Theatre 1895-1910, won the Errol Hill award from ASTR.

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