Langston Hughes: Folk Dramatist in the Protest Tradition, 1921-1943

Langston Hughes: Folk Dramatist in the Protest Tradition, 1921-1943

by Joseph McLaren

Hardcover

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Overview

Though known primarily as a poet, Langston Hughes crafted well over 40 theatrical works. This book examines Hughes's stage pieces from his first published play, The Gold Piece (1921), through his post-radical wartime effort, For This We Fight (1943). Hughes's stage writing of this period includes such forms as the folk comedy, the protest drama, the historical play and the blues opera. McLaren concludes that the democratic argument is ultimately employed by Hughes to challenge segregation in the military and that Hughes's iconography prefigures the black aesthetic of the 1960s. Photographs complement the text.

McLaren demonstrates that Hughes's folk comedies, such as Mule Bone (1930) and Little Ham (1936), valorize folk humor and black vernacular. Written in collaboration with Zora Neale Hurston, Mule Bone resulted in a literary controversy. The study also analyzes Hughes's radical plays, including Scottsboro Limited (1931) and Don't You Want to Be Free? (1938), which blend poetry and drama. Also addressed is Hughes's association with community drama groups, especially Karamu Theatre in Cleveland and the Harlem Suitcase Theatre, which premiered Don't You Want to Be Free? and a number of Hughes's satires. In the early 1940s, Hughes entered his post-radical period but continued to protest fascism and celebrate black heroes and heroines. This transition is reflected in his critique of Richard Wright's Native Son. McLaren concludes that the democratic argument is used to challenge segregation in the military and that Hughes's iconography prefigures the black aesthetic of the 1960s. This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of radical theatre and African American drama. Photographs complement the text.



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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780313287190
Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
Publication date: 12/09/1997
Series: Contributions in Afro-American and African Studies Series , #18
Pages: 248
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.69(d)
Lexile: 1450L (what's this?)

About the Author

JOSEPH McLAREN is an Associate Professor of English at Hofstra University. A specialist in African American literature and African literature in English, he has written numerous articles on diverse literary and cultural topics. His writings have appeared in such reference works as Masterpieces of African-American Literature and The African American Encyclopedia. He has presented papers at national and international conferences of the Popular Culture Association and the African Literature Association.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Beth Turner

Introduction

Folk Comedy in Collaboration: The Mule Bone Affair

Radical Drama and the Black Community

The Tragic Mode: Mulatto

The Gilpin Players and the Karamu Comedies

The Karamu Tragedies

The Harlem Suitcase Theatre

Community Theatre, Black Iconography, and World War II

Conclusion

Afterword by James V. Hatch

Bibliography

Index

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