Black Theatre: Ritual Performance in the African Diaspora / Edition 1

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Generating a new understanding of the past&#151as well as a vision for the future&#151this path-breaking volume contains essays written by playwrights, scholars, and critics that analyze African American theatre as it is practiced today.

Even as they acknowledge that Black experience is not monolithic, these contributors argue provocatively and persuasively for a Black consciousness that creates a culturally specific theatre. This theatre, rooted in an African mythos, offers ritual rather than realism; it transcends the specifics of social relations, reaching toward revelation. The ritual performance that is intrinsic to Black theatre renews the community; in Paul Carter Harrison's words, it "reveals the Form of Things Unknown" in a way that "binds, cleanses, and heals."

Author Biography: Paul Carter Harrison is playwright in residence at the Theatre Center, Columbia College, Chicago. He is the author of several books including, The Drama of Nommo and the editor of several play anthologies. His play, The Great MacDaddy, received an Obie Award for playwriting.

Victor Leo Walker is Chief Executive Officer of the African Grove Institute for the Arts, Inc. and the author of The Cultural MatriX: Los Angeles Inner City Cultural Center, 1965 to 1998.

Gus Edwards teaches Film Studies and directs a multi-ethnic theatre program at Arizona State University. He has published two volumes of monologues from his plays including The Offering, Black Body Blues, and Louie & Ophelia. He is coeditor with Paul Carter Harrison of the anthology, Classic Plays from the Negro Ensemble Company.\

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This important and groundbreaking collection of 32 essays is particularly valuable to those who have scant knowledge about African American theater, as the ideas are informing, eyeopening, and challenging. Gathered here are pieces by playwrights such as Ntozake Shange, Femi Euba, Wole Soyinka, Derek Wolcott, and Gus Edwards, while academic writers include Paul K. Bryant-Jackson, William Cook, and Keith Walker. The academic essays are excellent, but this reviewer favored those by theater professionals as they are the people who deliver "the goods" to the audience. Playwright and director George C. Wolfe contributes a superb and thought-provoking essay called "Performance Method," in which he discusses his use of the minstrel show, carnival, mask, and the Japanese theater techniques found in bunraku. For Wolfe, television is about character, film is about story, and theater is about ideas. His essay, which deserves a careful reading, is last in the text but should be read second, after Paul Carter Harrison's introductory "Praise/Word," which sets out the volume's theoretical underpinnings. Recommended for all academic libraries and public libraries with theater and/or African American collections.-Susan L. Peters, Univ. of Texas, Galveston Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.\
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566399449
  • Publisher: Temple University Press
  • Publication date: 5/20/2002
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Praise/Word 1
Pt. I African Roots
Introduction 13
Roots in African Drama and Theatre 18
The African Heritage of African American Art and Performance 39
Agones: The Constitution of a Practice 64
What the Twilight Says: An Overture 88
Caribbean Narrative: Carnival Characters - In Life and in the Mind 108
Rebaptizing the World in Our Own Terms: Black Theatre and Live Arts in Britain 115
Pt. II Mythology and Metaphysics
Introduction 131
The Fourth Stage: Through the Mysteries of Ogun to the Origin of Yoruba Tragedy 140
The Candomble and Eshu-Eleggua in Brazilian and Cuban Yoruba-Based Ritual 153
Legba and the Politics of Metaphysics: The Trickster in Black Drama 167
Art for Life's Sake: Rituals and Rights of Self and Other in the Theatre of Aime Cesaire 181
Sycorax Mythology 209
Conjuring as Radical Re/Membering in the Works of Shay Youngblood 227
Archetype and Masking in LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka's Dutchman 236
Pt. III Dramaturgical Practice
Introduction 247
The Dramaturg's Way: Meditations on the Cartographer at the Crossroads 251
Introduction to Moon Marked and Touched by Sun 257
Kennedy's Travelers in the American and African Continuum 273
Mojo and the Sayso: A Drama of Nommo That Asks, "Is Your Mojo Working?" 285
Ritual Poetics and Rites of Passage in Ntozake Shange's for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf 296
Pt. IV Performance
Introduction 313
Form and Transformation: Immanence of the Soul in the Performance Modes of Black Church and Black Music 316
The Sense of Self in Ritualizing New Performance Spaces for Survival 332
Barbara Ann Teer: From Holistic Training to Liberating Rituals 345
Bopera Theory 378
From Hip-Hop to Hittite: Part X 382
Members and Lames: Language in the Plays of August Wilson 388
Porque Tu No M'entrende? Whatcha Mean You Can't Understand Me? 397
Performance Method 400
Afterword: Testimony of a Witness 409
About the Contributors 415
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