Ritual Performance in the African Diasporaedited by Paul Carter Harrison, Victor Leo Walker II and Gus Edwards
Generating a new understanding of the pastas well as a vision for the futurethis 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."
"Black Theatre is an indispensable volume—insightful, wide-ranging, global in scope—to be enjoyed, studied, mulled over and argued with." —Douglass Turner Ward, Founder of The Negro Ensemble Company
"In 1970, in the heat of the Black Arts Movement, Paul Carter Harrison published his seminal The Drama of Nommo, challenging readers to look beyond the political orthodoxy of kitchen sink realism to discern the aesthetic foundations of black theatre. This present anthology demonstrates the impressive extent to which scholars, playwrights, and directors have built upon that call. Drawing from performance practices in Africa, the Caribbean, the United States, and black Britain, this landmark collection delineates the cultural specificity of an African diaspora theatre that, while it appears to 'wear the mask' of conformity to EuroAmerican values, enacts a profoundly different world view aimed at confronting an oppressive past and reaffirming the humanity of black peoples. The anthology's analytic rigor and creative insight set a challenge for subsequent generations to engage." —Sandra L. Richards, Leon Forrest Professor of African American Studies and Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies at Northwestern University
"The spirit and the intellect of the late Larry Neal, as well as the tremendously resilient legacy of the radical Black theatre movement of the sixties and seventies, animate most of the essays and documents collected in this volume. It is a feast of powerful critical and theoretical reflections on the past and the future of Black theatre in this country and in other parts of the African diaspora. Without the slightest nudge toward racial absolutism or essentialism, the volume is a model of how 'race' can be deployed as a subtle and progressive analytic category in contemporary dramatic and cultural criticism. This book should be compulsory reading for every student of contemporary theatre scholarship." —Biodun Jeyifo, Professor of English, Cornell University
"...a powerful examination of ritual-based performance traditions practiced throughout the African diaspora. It belongs on the shelf of anyone studying black performance. (The editors) succeed on many levels with this collection of compelling articles....this text is a valuable contribution to current critical, historical and theoretical debate about this rich and varied field." —Theatre Research International
"(E)ssential. This book illuminates, challenges, and expands the consciousness. It also inspires the reader..." —The African American Review
"This book is a powerful examination of ritual-based performance traditions practiced throughout the African diaspora. It belongs on the shelf of anyone studying black performance.... This text is a valuable contribution to current critical, historical and theoretical debate about this rich and varied field." —Theatre Research International
"What is to be celebrated regarding this anthology is that it has been edited by black theater educators and practitioners." —Research in African Literatures
"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, eye-opening, and challenging." —Library Journal
"Black Theatre is a gateway: to follow its paths creates a lifetime of study and art-making because a lifetime is what each essayist has contributed. It will find a much deserving home in the classroom and on the bookshelves of serious, well-minded theatre practitioners everywhere." —RAIN TAXI
"...a godsend for African and African-American studies departments everywhere..." —American Theatre
"A remarkable sense of intra/inter-textuality also makes Black Theatre a landmark publication in contemporary black theatre studies..." —Theatre Journal