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By Harry J. Elam

African-American functionality and Theatre heritage is an anthology of severe writings that explores the intersections of race, theater, and function in the US. Assembled by way of revered students in black theater and composed of essays from said specialists within the box (Joseph Roach and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. between other), this quantity is geared up into 4 sections consultant of the methods black theater, drama, and function previous and current have interaction and enact non-stop social, cultural, and political dialogues. the idea at the back of the ebook is that reading African-American theater and function traditions bargains perception into how race has operated and maintains to function in American society. the one one-volume selection of its sort, this quantity is probably going to develop into the primary reference for these learning black theater.

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Additional resources for African American Performance and Theater History: A Critical Reader

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This book affirms the power of theater to act as a cultural force within and as a social barometer of African American experiences. Analyzing African American performance traditions offers us insight into how blackness has been produced and even performed as the device of race is continually reconstructed and redefined within the theater. notes 1. Nineteenth-century theories of polygenism proposed that geographicalorigins and biological inheritance determined racial categories. Using pseudoscientific and biased methodology, authorities on “craniometry” claimed a clear relationship between the size of human skulls and the shape of human brains and, as a consequence, racial difference.

In her creation, Stowe engaged in the highly ambivalent process of stereotyping that, in Homi Bhabha’s description, attempts to ascribe a “fixity” to a subject. ”2 Stowe’s characters merely repeated what had already been “fixed” by earlier racial discourse. ”3 Although these figures had a symbolic value, they were implicated in the stereotypes of the time. Intrinsic to the process of stereotyping is an ambivalence that includes: a repertoire of conflictual positions [that] constitutes thesubjectincolonial discourse.

On stage, these differences are magnified by the power of the visual image. The young girl playing Eva is opposed to the larger, more active, full-grown woman or young boy playing Topsy. They seem not to be potential playmates at all but clear opposites—any childish innocence for Topsy is drained by the blackened stage image. At the same time, there isa contrastinthecoloring of the two. Eva’s fair face and hair highlighted by her white clothes heightens the blackness of the cosmetic coloring of the white actor playing Topsy.

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