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The history of African American drama Essay

The history of African American drama, 496 words essay example

Essay Topic: african american, history, drama

African American Drama
Where it all began
It is known that during the Harlem Renaissance many things were brought to light among African Americans. During that time (1918-37), the Harlem Renaissance was the blossoming of African American Culture, particularly the arts. "Embracing literary, musical, theatrical, and visual arts, participants sought to reconceptualize "the Negro" apart from the white stereotypes that had influenced black peoples' relationship to their heritage and to each other" (Hutchinson 1). This was a time where African Americans took advantage of the change that was taking place. While that time sprung about such a remarkable period for African Americans, it also attracted an intellect as well as talent that served as the symbolic capital for cultural awakening. What I want to showcase is how African American Drama changed the dynamic of how blacks were looked along with the influence they've set for black culture. Although African Americans were looked at constantly as unqualified, yet they prevailed in a positive way. Why not shed light on the greatness African Americans of our past have done allowing future blacks to thrive, when African American Drama has greatly had an impact, not solely on black theatre but American theatre too.
There were many blacks waiting to be heard and seen. They wanted more than anything to demise the representation of their people while developing a new repertoire of images. "Many people believe that Black Theatre began with Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun (1959) and that whatever preceded Hansberry didn't amount to much. They were wrong" (Hamalian, Hatch 16). Black authors wrote plays to specifically demonstrate black people's courage. For example, Lorraine Hansberry tried to do just that. She wrote her play to allow people to recognize the reality of what blacks were going through in dealing with whites but also it represented the strength African Americans had to endure to survive. Further more, fighting to be heard wasn't the only issue. African American Drama greatly went through its trials and tribulations, especially at the cost of comparison to American theatre. For example, in the year of 1949, Langston Hughes publishes a poem entitled A Note on Commercial Theatre. The second verse reads
"You put me in Macbeth and Carmen Jones
And all kinds of Swing Mikados
And in everything but what's about me-
But someday somebody'll Stand up and talk about me,
And write about me-
Black and beautiful-
And sing about me,
And put on plays about me!
I reckon it'll be
Me Myself!
Yes, it'll be me."
"A white reader may have exclaimed, "What is he sore about? Those were good shows with great black stars!" They were. But these shows and many "black" plays did not present an image that Mr. Hughes could recognize as black. Much black theater in the last twenty years can be understood in this light the attempt of black playwrights to present honest black images on an American stage that for two centuries presented dishonest ones, written by white playwrights" (Hamalian, Hatch 15).

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