The African Company Presents Richard III. Produced at Dartmouth College. Visit our photo gallery.
Theatre and Performance
TABLE OF CONTENTS
At the Moment of Birth: A Note from the Managing Editor
Freda Scott Giles, Managing Editor
An Introduction to the First Issue of Continuum: Toward an Anthropology of Inception
Paul K. Bryant-Jackson, Editor-in-chief
Mourning, Orature, and Memory: Cultural Performativity as Historiography in Pearl Cleage's A Song for Coretta
In A Song for Coretta, the central action takes place at the public memorial for the First Lady of the Human Rights Movement, Coretta Scott King. Playwright Pearl Cleage has illumined the Black experience from a relatively narrowed perspective through her dramatization of five African American women patiently waiting in line to view the body of King. By and large, the perspective can safely be placed under the scope of a womanist positionality. Individually, the women have been asked why they've each come to mourn the late ancestor – particularly, when they've never even met her. In order to answer the question, the women must recall their past. . .
Spreading the Sand: Understanding the Economic and Creative Impetus for the Black Vaudeville Industry
The impetus for this research stems from questions sparked when I was researching and writing a book on the Whitman Sisters, a turn of the nineteenth into the twentieth century Black vaudeville troupe owned and operated by four Black women. Fascinated by the raced, classed and gendered political and social negotiations, I dug into this unlikely success story. The company pushed buttons and broke barriers left and right: cross-dressing; passing for white; desegregating theaters. Most impressive, though, was Mae Whitman who managed the company and, I argued, relied on certain gendered advantages to succeed in this mostly white male business. They succeeded aesthetically, helping to foster some of the greatest talent in the entertainment industry. . .
To Be a Man: A Re-Assessment of Black Masculinity in Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun and Les Blancs
Julie M. Burrell
At the close of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun, Mama Younger makes this observation about her son, Walter Lee Younger: "He finally come into his manhood today, didn't he? Kind of like a rainbow after the rain." This positive evaluation of Walter's masculinity marks a sea change in the female characters' perceptions of Walter, who previously had been viewed as irresponsible, immature, and as not living up to the precedent set by his father, Big Walter. By the end of the play, however, Walter's position as head of the Younger household is substantiated by his decision to move the family out of their Chicago tenement and into the white suburban enclave, Clybourne Park. Walter thus averts what could have been the play's potentially tragic denouement—the dissolution of the Younger family in the deadly Southside ghetto—with action the women in his family find nobly masculine. . .
Toward a Critical Vocabulary for African Diaspora Expressivity
Paul Carter Harrison
Over the past forty years, we have accepted the expedient rubric of Black Theatre, Black Music, Black Poetry, Black Dance, Black Visual Art without a culturally specific critical language to make valid assessments about what makes the expressive product Black. For most African Americans it suffices if the expressive product, in whatever genre, simply tells "our story", irrespective of "how" or what aesthetic choices are engaged to tell the story. Yet, Porgy and Bess is a Eurocentric fabrication of Black life that has never been considered a Black Opera or Black Musical, but rather, an American Opera on a Black theme which reaffirms how often the Black experience has driven much of the American historical narrative. . .
Fela! National Broadway Tour
Sharrell D. Luckett
On November 23, 2009 a provocative new musical based on the life of revolutionary Nigerian artist/activist Fela Anikulapo-Kuti played on Broadway. From 2011 to 2013 this musical toured globally. FELA! garnered eleven Tony nominations, winning three: Best Choreography, Best Costume Design, and Best Sound Design. Through the use of captivating images and a book and lyrics that supplied unflinching details of a life of political struggle, FELA! captured the relentless political stance of a revolutionary leader, heightening the production's political impact and relevance. . .
The Road Weeps, The Well Runs Dry. Los Angeles Theatre Center (LATC)
Marcus Gardley's the road weeps, the well runs dry presented at the Los Angeles Theatre Center (LATC) combines history, myth, sexual variance and magical realism. Like his earlier workevery tongue confess, this play is epic in scope sketching multi generation characters in a confluence of the real and the metaphysical. Gardley uses ethnographic research and historicity to substantiate a community of Black Seminoles relocated by the American government to what is now present day Oklahoma during the mid nineteenth century. This in itself may not be that unique to the African American dramatic canon but Gardley's play is told from the perspective of his male leads involved in an intimate relationship. . .