African American Performance and Theater History: A Critical by Harry J. Elam

By Harry J. Elam

African-American functionality and Theatre background is an anthology of serious writings that explores the intersections of race, theater, and function in the US. Assembled via revered students in black theater and composed of essays from said professionals within the box (Joseph Roach and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. between other), this quantity is prepared into 4 sections consultant of the methods black theater, drama, and function prior and current have interaction and enact non-stop social, cultural, and political dialogues. the basis in the back of the publication is that reading African-American theater and function traditions bargains perception into how race has operated and maintains to function in American society. the single one-volume number of its type, this quantity is probably going to develop into the relevant reference for these learning black theater.

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The ability of a white woman to play this role without cosmetic enhancement underlined the tragic notion of her fate—to look white but to be black. She appeared as a white woman, but she was without the protections that white status conferred on her: she could be raped without consequence. The fact that these women were portrayed on stage by white women further complicated the idea of an intelligent black woman. The audience was always aware that the intelligent “black” character on the stage who inspired compassion was a white woman.

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 1858, while on tour in Odessa Russia, the great black Shakespearean actor, Ira Aldridge, consented to having his head measured by the American consul there. The consul concluded: The head of this eminent coloured man is very much larger than the average size for a white man which, as is generally known, is above the Negro type of head.

36 The mammy is a fiction that, in its representation, fulfills all of the criteria that Morrison proposes. Within the myths of black femininity of the nineteenth century, only the mammy is free of the taint of sexuality. Her physical traits place her beyond the pale of sexual attraction. However, like Topsy, her representation entails an excess, and the same traits that mark her as undesirable can be read as sexualized. Although the myth marks the mammy as a woman whose body is denuded of sexuality, in literature, as in reality, this separation is impossible.

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