Cover: Drumbeats, Masks, and Metaphor in HARDCOVER

Drumbeats, Masks, and Metaphor

Contemporary Afro-American Theatre

Add to Cart

Product Details

HARDCOVER

$78.00 • £62.95 • €70.00

ISBN 9780674216785

Publication Date: 11/29/1983

Short

304 pages

12 halftones

World

Contemporary Afro-American theatre is an exciting spectacle of an emerging black identity during a period when blacks have come to the forefront of political activity in the United States. Geneviève Fabre brings us the vast and rich production of black drama since 1945, placing it in historical and cultural context as a platform for political statement. Two strains emerge: the militant theatre of protest, and the ethnic theatre of black experience.

Militant theatre breaks free from dominant white traditions and seeks to mobilize members of the community into common action. Masks and metaphors assume their fullest meaning: when the “white masks” are torn off, “black skins” suddenly appear. At first a shout of anger and of challenge, the militant theatre later becomes an almost visionary world. The Pike of LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka rise like clenched fists. Among the other dramatists of militant theatre are Douglas Turner Ward, Ted Shine, Ben Caldwell, and Sonia Sanchez. We see their plays that examine relations between blacks and whites; stories of victims and rebels and traitors; and rituals of vengeance.

In contrast to the didactic speech of the militant theatre, the theatre of experience develops out of a dialogue in the language of blacks about their own experience. It embraces the rituals of daily life: the liturgy of the black church, traditional music, and folklore. This theatre celebrates a vital culture existing outside the boundaries of the dominant society. We hear the voice of the blues and the rhetoric of religion, we see depictions of the family and the street world of the ghetto, as well as the time–honored art of the trickster. James Baldwin, Ed Bullins, Melvin Van Peebles, and Edgar White are among the playwrights shown making extensive use of black cultural traditions.

Fabre is the first to attempt such an ambitious assessment of contemporary black theatre, one that evaluates its development as well as individual authors, plays, and performances, and also defines the growth of a distinctive and thriving theatrical tradition.

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Jacket: The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution, by Lindsay Chervinsky, from Harvard University Press

Why You Should Participate in an (Online) Book Club

Online book clubs can be a rewarding way to connect with readers, Lindsay Chervinsky discovered, when she was invited to join one to discuss her book, The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution. Since my book was published in April 2020, I’ve discovered that my work appeals to three main audiences. First, the general readers who are enthusiastic about history, attend virtual events, and tend to support local historic sites. Second, readers who are curious about our government institutions and the current political climate and are looking for answers about its origins. And third, history, social studies, and government teachers