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The History of African American Theatre “Escape, or Leap for Freedom” by William Wells Brown.

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1 The History of African American Theatre “Escape, or Leap for Freedom” by William Wells Brown

2 The Pulpit as Performance Space

3 William Wells Brown ( ) Landmarks in African American Literary History William Wells Brown was the first African-American to publish a novel, a play, a travel book, a military study of his people, and a study of black sociology. Throughout his life he was committed to the abolition of slavery. He made eloquent speeches putting forward ideas for reform. Later in life he took up the cause of the temperance movement. Primary Works Narrative of William W. Brown, A Fugitive Slave, Written by Himself, 1847Three Years in Europe; or Places I Have Seen and People I Have Met, 1852; Clotel; or, The President's Daughter: A Narrative of Slave Life in the United States, 1853; The Escape; or, A Leap of Freedom. A Drama in Five Acts, 1858; Memoir of WWB, An American Bondman. Written by Himself, 1859; The Black Man. His Antecedents, His Genius, and His Achievements, 1863; The Negro in the American Rebellion. His Heroism and His Fidelity, 1867; The Rising Son; or, The Antecedents and Advancement of the Colored Race, 1873; and My Southern Home: or, The South and Its People, Recent Scholarship Chaney, Michael A. Fugitive Vision: Slave Image and Black Identity in Antebellum Narrative. Bloomington: Indiana UP, Ernest, John. Liberation Historiography: African American Writers and the Challenge of History, Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, The Escape; Or, A Leap for Freedom: A Drama in Five Acts. Knoxville: U of Tennessee P, James, Jennifer C. A Freedom Bought with Blood: African American War Literature from the Civil War to World War II. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, Levine, Robert S. ed. Clotel, or the President's Daughter. Boston: Bedford, Nelson, Emmanuel S. ed. African American Autobiographers: A Sourcebook. Westport, CT: Greenwood, African American Authors, : A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook. Westport, CT: Greenwood, Stadler, Gustavus. Troubling Minds: The Cultural Politics of Genius in the United States, Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2006.

4 A Brief Biography of Brown  William Wells Brown ( ): A Brief Biography  William Wells Brown was the first African-American to write a novel, a play, and a travel book. He was born in Lexington, Kentucky in His father was the white owner of the plantation on which Brown was born.  Brown held many diverse jobs as a youth which provided him with firsthand knowledge of the slave era South which aided him in his writing. Brown escaped from slavery in January During his escape he received help from an Ohio Quaker named Wells Brown (whose name he adopted when he became a free man). After his refuge he taught himself how to read and write. Brown became an active abolitionist and activist in the anti-slavery movement while working for a journalist for the abolitionist cause.  He was also important in THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, which helped slaves escape to freedom in Canada. It was during this time that Brown married Elizabeth Schooner, a free black woman. They had three children together. After moving to Buffalo, Brown continued to participate in the UNDERGROUND RAILROAD and also spoke publicly on abolition, women's rights, peace, and temperance.  In 1843 Brown was invited to lecture for the Anti-Slavery Society and gained renown as a public figure. The American Peace Society chose him as their representative to the Peace Congress in Europe in  While Brown was in Europe he delivered over a thousand speeches and wrote some of his most important work, including the first African American novel Clotel; or The President's Daughter: A Narrative of Slave Life in the United States.  He left Europe in In 1858 he published the first play by an African-American.  While Brown was in Europe his wife died.  In 1860 he married Annie Elizabeth Grey. Brown continued his political and literary activities. He was a major supporter of black recruitment efforts during the CIVIL WAR.  He continued to write many literary and historical works including The Black Man: His Antecedents, His Genius, and His Achievements, and The Negro In American Rebellion: His Heroism and His Fidelity. His final book My Southern Home, or The South and Its People, appeared in  It is important to note that Brown's importance in African-American literacy is not only based on his interesting stylistic blends of melodrama, documentary, abolitionist tract, political critique but also in his willingness to address the issues of sexual exploitation of female slaves. Interestingly enough, the novel implicates Thomas Jefferson in this practice. The novel also challenges the inconsistencies that fail to protect the human rights of millions of African-Americans. Brown was able to address such issues in his literary works that reached a broad audience.  In addition to writing his own works Brown was a contributor to Frederick Douglass’s paper, the Liberator, and to the National Anti-Slavery Standard and the London Daily News. Brown died on Nov. 6, 1884 in his home in Chelsea, Massachusettes.

5 French Romanticism French romanticism is a highly eclectic phenomenon. It includes an interest in the historical novel, the romance, traditional myths (and nationalism) and the "roman noir" (or Gothic novel), lyricism, sentimentalism, descriptions of the natural world (such as elegies by lakes) and the common man, exoticism and orientalism, and the myth of the romantic hero. Foreign influences played a big part in this, especially those of Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott, Byron, Goethe, and Friedrich Schiller. French Romanticism had ideals diametrically opposed to French classicism and the classical unities (see French literature of the 17th century), but it could also express a profound loss for aspects of the pre-revolutionary world in a society now dominated by money and fame, rather than honor. Key ideas from early French Romanticism: "le vague des passions" (waves of sentiment and passion) - Chateaubriand maintained that while the imagination was rich, the world was cold and empty, and rationalism and civilization had only robbed men of their illusions; nevertheless, a notion of sentiment and passion continued to haunt men. "le mal du siècle" (the pain of the century) - a sense of loss, disillusion, and aporia, typified by melancholy and lassitude. The major battle of romanticism in France was fought in the theater. The early years of the century were marked by a revival of classicism and classical-inspired tragedies, often with themes of national sacrifice or patriotic heroism in keeping with the spirit of the Revolution, but the production of Victor Hugo's Hernani in 1830 marked the triumph of the romantic movement on the stage (a description of the turbulent opening night can be found in Théophile Gautier). The dramatic unities of time and place were abolished, tragic and comic elements appeared together and metrical freedom was won. Marked by the plays of Friedrich Schiller, the romantics often chose subjects from historic periods (the French Renaissance, the reign of Louis XIII of France) and doomed noble characters (rebel princes and outlaws) or misunderstood artists (Vigny's play based on the life of Thomas Chatterton).

6 Minstrelsy and Tricksters (American Genius?): Cato and Sampey

7 The History of African American Theatre William Wells Brown’s The Escape, or, Leap for Freedom

8 William Wells Brown ( ) Landmarks in African American Literary History William Wells Brown was the first African-American to publish a novel, a play, a travel book, a military study of his people, and a study of black sociology. Throughout his life he was committed to the abolition of slavery. He made eloquent speeches putting forward ideas for reform. Later in life he took up the cause of the temperance movement. Primary Works Narrative of William W. Brown, A Fugitive Slave, Written by Himself, 1847Three Years in Europe; or Places I Have Seen and People I Have Met, 1852; Clotel; or, The President's Daughter: A Narrative of Slave Life in the United States, 1853; The Escape; or, A Leap of Freedom. A Drama in Five Acts, 1858; Memoir of WWB, An American Bondman. Written by Himself, 1859; The Black Man. His Antecedents, His Genius, and His Achievements, 1863; The Negro in the American Rebellion. His Heroism and His Fidelity, 1867; The Rising Son; or, The Antecedents and Advancement of the Colored Race, 1873; and My Southern Home: or, The South and Its People, Recent Sholarship Chaney, Michael A. Fugitive Vision: Slave Image and Black Identity in Antebellum Narrative. Bloomington: Indiana UP, Ernest, John. Liberation Historiography: African American Writers and the Challenge of History, Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, The Escape; Or, A Leap for Freedom: A Drama in Five Acts. Knoxville: U of Tennessee P, James, Jennifer C. A Freedom Bought with Blood: African American War Literature from the Civil War to World War II. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, Levine, Robert S. ed. Clotel, or the President's Daughter. Boston: Bedford, Nelson, Emmanuel S. ed. African American Autobiographers: A Sourcebook. Westport, CT: Greenwood, African American Authors, : A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook. Westport, CT: Greenwood, Stadler, Gustavus. Troubling Minds: The Cultural Politics of Genius in the United States, Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2006.

9 A Brief Biography of Brown  William Wells Brown ( ): A Brief Biography  William Wells Brown was the first African-American to write a novel, a play, and a travel book. He was born in Lexington, Kentucky in His father was the white owner of the plantation on which Brown was born.  Brown held many diverse jobs as a youth which provided him with firsthand knowledge of the slave era South which aided him in his writing. Brown escaped from slavery in January During his escape he received help from an Ohio Quaker named Wells Brown (whose name he adopted when he became a free man). After his refuge he taught himself how to read and write. Brown became an active abolitionist and activist in the anti-slavery movement while working for a journalist for the abolitionist cause.  He was also important in THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, which helped slaves escape to freedom in Canada. It was during this time that Brown married Elizabeth Schooner, a free black woman. They had three children together. After moving to Buffalo, Brown continued to participate in the UNDERGROUND RAILROAD and also spoke publicly on abolition, women's rights, peace, and temperance.  In 1843 Brown was invited to lecture for the Anti-Slavery Society and gained renown as a public figure. The American Peace Society chose him as their representative to the Peace Congress in Europe in  While Brown was in Europe he delivered over a thousand speeches and wrote some of his most important work, including the first African American novel Clotel; or The President's Daughter: A Narrative of Slave Life in the United States.  He left Europe in In 1858 he published the first play by an African-American.  While Brown was in Europe his wife died.  In 1860 he married Annie Elizabeth Grey. Brown continued his political and literary activities. He was a major supporter of black recruitment efforts during the CIVIL WAR.  He continued to write many literary and historical works including The Black Man: His Antecedents, His Genius, and His Achievements, and The Negro In American Rebellion: His Heroism and His Fidelity. His final book My Southern Home, or The South and Its People, appeared in  It is important to note that Brown's importance in African-American literacy is not only based on his interesting stylistic blends of melodrama, documentary, abolitionist tract, political critique but also in his willingness to address the issues of sexual exploitation of female slaves. Interestingly enough, the novel implicates Thomas Jefferson in this practice. The novel also challenges the inconsistencies that fail to protect the human rights of millions of African-Americans. Brown was able to address such issues in his literary works that reached a broad audience.  In addition to writing his own works Brown was a contributor to Frederick Douglass’s paper, the Liberator, and to the National Anti-Slavery Standard and the London Daily News. Brown died on Nov. 6, 1884 in his home in Chelsea, Massachusetts.

10 French Romanticism and Melodrama French Melodrama’s Basics The basic characteristics of French melodrama can be summarized briefly: a virtuous hero or heroine is relentlessly hounded by a villain and is rescued from seemingly insurmountable difficulties only to undergo a series of threats to life, reputation, or happiness; an episodic story unfolds after a short expository scene; each act ends with a strong climax; all important events occur on stage and often involve elaborate spectacle (such as battles, floods, or earthquakes) and local color (such as festivals, dances, or picturesque working conditions); the typical plot involves disguise, abduction, concealed identity, and fortunate coincidence; strict poetic justice is meted out, for, although they may succeed until the final scene, the villains are always defeated; comic relief is provided by a servant or companion to one of the principal characters; song, dance, and music provide additional entertainment or underscore the emotional value of scenes. Brown’s Text Brown takes advantage of all the conventions afforded by French Melodrama (spectacle, disguise, abduction, concealed identity, etc.) to set forth his abolitionist agenda, positioning Melinda and Glen as the hero and heroine; Mr. and Mrs. Gaines as the villains; the brutalities of slavery and slave-catchers as seemingly insurmountable difficulties; and American plantation life for “local color” (allowing for, in Brown’s case, an African-American ritual to be incorporated into the play). Cato provides most f the comic relief and also leads the CHORUS in song.

11 Performance History The Escape was never meant for performance on a proscenium stage. Since neither slavery nor freedom welcomed blacks to the stage, The Escape was performed from the pulpit and other alternative arenas that allowed Brown’s voice to be heard. He transformed spaces with the power of his words, enacting over twenty character parts to audiences dedicated to the abolitionist movement. At a time when Christians abhorred the theater as an arena of ungodliness, Brown was a major catalyst in overturning this taboo for the abolitionist cause.

12 Cato the Trickster CATO Yes, massa; I'll tend to 'em. (exit Dr. GAINES, left) I allers knowed I was a doctor, an' now de ole boss has put me at it, I muss change my coat. Ef any niggers comes in, I want to look suspectable. Dis jacket don't suit a doctor; I'll change it. (exit CATO -- immediately returning in a long coat) Ah! now I looks like a doctor. Now I can bleed, pull teef, or cut off a leg. Oh! well, well, ef I aint put de pill stuff an' de intment stuff togedder. By golly, dat ole cuss will be mad when he finds it out, won't he? Nebber mind, I'll make it up in pills, and when de flour is on dem, he won't know what's in 'em; an' I'll make some new intment. Ah! yonder comes Mr. Campbell's Pete an' Ned; dems de ones massa sed was comin'. I'll see ef I looks right. (goes to the looking-glass and views himself) I em some punkins, ain't I? (knock at the door) Come in. (Enter PETE and NED, right) PETE Whar is de doctor? CATO Here I is; don't you see me?

13 The Specter of Miscegenation Act 3 Scene 3 MAJ. MOORE Yes, madam, I am. I rather like the Colonel's situation here. MRS. GAINES It is thought to be a fine location. (enter SAMPEY, right) Hand me my fan, will you, Sampey? (SAMPEY gets the fan and passes near the MAJOR, who mistakes the boy for the Colonel's son. He reaches out his hand) MAJ. MOORE How do you do, Bob? Madam I should have known that this was the Colonel's son, if I had met him in California; for he looks so much like his papa. MRS. GAINES (to the boy) Get out of here this minute. Go to the kitchen. (exit SAMPEY, right) That is one of the niggers, sir. MAJ. MOORE I beg your pardon, madam; I beg your pardon. MRS. GAINES No offence, sir; mistakes will be made. Ah! here comes the Colonel. (Enter Dr. GAINES, center) DR. GAINES Bless my soul, how are you, Major? I'm exceedingly pleased to see you. Be seated, be seated, Major. MRS. GAINES Please excuse me, gentlemen; I must go and look after dinner, for I've no doubt that the Major will have an appetite for dinner, by the time it is ready. (exit Mrs. GAINES, right)

14 Speeches of Justification

15 Glens Speech of Justification and…. Sampey Speaks! (Interior of a dungeon -- GLEN in chains) GLEN When I think of my unmerited sufferings, it almost drives me mad. I struck the doctor, and for that, I must remain here loaded with chains. But why did he strike me? He takes my wife from me, sends her off, and then comes and beats me over the head with his cane. I did right to strike him back again. I would I had killed him. Oh! there is a volcano pent up in the hearts of the slaves of these Southern States that will burst forth ere long. When that day comes, wo to those whom its unpitying fury may devour! I would be willing to die, if I could smite down with these chains every man who attempts to enslave his fellow-man. (Enter SAMPEY, right) SAMPEY Glen, I jess bin hear massa call de oberseer, and I spec somebody is gwine to be whipped. Anudder ting: I know whar massa took Linda to. He took her to de poplar farm, an' he went away las' night, an' missis she follow after massa, an' she ain't come back yet. I tell you, Glen, de debil will be to pay on dis place, but don't you tell anybody dat I tole you. (exit SAMPEY, right)

16 Jumping the Broom Is a ceremony dating back to the 1600s and derived from Africa. Dating back to slave days, jumping the broom together has been part of weddings for couples who want to honor that tradition. It also has roots in the Celtic culture and including but not limited to Welsh, Celtics, Druids, and Gypsies and some aboriginal or shamanistic cultures. Some couples choose to incorporate it into traditional and non-traditional ceremonies. Broom jumping is a brief ceremony usually within the wedding ceremony toward the end. The jumping of the broom is symbolic of binding a couple in marriage and also can be used to symbolize fertility and prosperity of the couple. The "Jumping the Broom" is a ceremony in which the bride and groom, either at the ceremony or at the reception, signify their entrance into a new life and their creation of a new family by symbolically "sweeping away" their former single lives, former problems and concerns, and jumping over the broom to enter upon a new adventure as wife and husband. Jumping the broom or in some cases jumping over an imaginary line is an African ritual, or tradition still being practiced in some parts of West Africa. Jumping the broom is not associated with slavery. Enslaved Africans, as an affirmation of their cultural heritage practiced it during slavery in North America. This "leap" into a new life (marriage as wife and husband is performed in the presence of families and friends. You can be as creative as you want when planning for this special ceremony. The broom has both symbolic and spiritual importance in the African culture. The ritual itself was created by our ancestors during slavery. Because slaves could not legally marry, they created their own rituals to honor their unions. Some say broom jumping comes from an African tribal marriage ritual of placing sticks on the ground representing the couple's new home. The straws of the broom represent family; the handle represents the Almighty; the ribbon represents the tie that binds the couple together.

17 Close Readings Act 3 Scene 2 Act 3, Scene 2 (The kitchen -- slaves at work. Enter HANNAH, right) HANNAH Oh, Cato, do go and tell missis dat you don't want to jump de broomstick wid me, -- dat's a good man! Do, Cato; kase I nebber can love you. It was only las week dat massa sold my Sammy, and I don't want any udder man. Do go tell missis dat you don't want me. CATO No, Hannah, I ain't a gwine to tell missis no such think, kase I dose want you, and I ain't a- gwine to tell a lie for you ner nobody else. Dar, now you's got it! I don't see why you need to make so much fuss. I is better lookin' den Sam; an' I is a house servant, an' Sam was only a fiel hand; so you ought to feel proud of a change. So go and do as missis tells you. (exit HANNAH, left) Hannah needn't try to get me to tell a lie; I ain't a-gwine to do it, kase I dose want her, an' I is bin wantin' her dis long time, an' soon as massa sold Sam, I knowed I would get her. By golly, I is gwine to be a married man. Won't I be happy! Now, ef I could only jess run away from ole massa, an' get to Canada wid Hannah, den I'd show 'em who I was. Ah! dat reminds me of my song 'bout ole massa and Canada, an' I'll sing it fer yer. Dis is my moriginal hyme. It comed into my head one night when I was fass asleep under an apple tree, looking up at de moon. Now for my song : -- AIR -- "Dandy Jim" Come all ye bondmen far and near, Let's put a song in massa's ear, It is a song for our poor race, Who're whipped and trampled with disgrace. [CHORUS] My old massa tells me, Oh, This is a land of freedom, Oh; Let's look about and see if it's so, Just as massa tells me, Oh. He tells us of that glorious one, I think his name was Washington, How he did fight for liberty, To save a threepence tax on tea. (Chorus) But now we look about and see That we poor blacks are not so free; We're whipped and thrashed about like fools, And have no chance at common schools. (Chorus) They take our wives, insult and mock, And sell our children on the block, They choke us if we say a word, And say that "niggers" shan't be heard. (Chorus) Our preachers, too, with whip and cord, Command obedience in the Lord; They say they learn it from the big book, But for ourselves, we dare not look. (Chorus) There is a country far away, I think they call it Canada, And if we reach Victoria's shore, They say that we are slaves no more. Now haste, all bondmen, let us go, And leave this Christian country, Oh; Haste to the land of the British Queen, Where whips for negroes are not seen. Now, if we go, we must take the night, And never let them come in sight; The bloodhounds will be on our track, And wo to us if they fetch us back. Now haste all bondmen, let us go, And leave this Christian country, Oh; God help us to Victoria's shore, Where we are free and slaves no more! (Enter Mrs. GAINES, left ) Talking Points 1)The secrecy of staged ritual 2)Critiquing the U.S. 3)U.S. as conman 4)From Washington to Doctor: the metaphor of decline 5)The incorporation of ritual on stage 6)Christianity 7)Chorus

18 Melodrama and Ritual Subversion Swept off Her Feet MRS. GAINES Yes, Melinda, I will see that you are taken away, but it shall be after a fashion that you won't like. I know that your master loves you, and I intend to put a stop to it. Here, drink the contents of this vial, -- drink it! MELINDA Oh, you will not take my life, -- you will not! MRS. GAINES Drink the poison this moment ! MELINDA I cannot drink it. MRS. GAINES I tell you to drink this poison at once. Drink it, or I will thrust this knife to your heart! The poison or the dagger, this instant! (she draws a dagger; MELINDA retreats to the back of the room, and seizes a broom.) MELINDA I will not drink the poison! (they fight; MELINDA sweeps off Mrs. GAINES, -- cap, combs and curls. Curtain falls) Talking Points 1)The nature of the conflict 2)Miscegenation 3)The symbol of the dagger 4)The symbol of the broom 5)Brown’s decision to use a broom as the instrument of resistance, and its significance with respect to “Standards and Practices…”

19 Close Reading: Act 5 Scene 3 OFFICER Get out of the way! Gentlemen, we'll go up the shore. (exit, left) (Enter CATO, right) CATO I is loss fum de cumpny, but dis is de ferry, and I spec dey'll soon come. But didn't we have a good time las' night in Buffalo? Dem dar Buffalo gals make my heart flutter, dat dey did. But, tanks be to de Lord, I is got religion. I got it las' night in de meetin'. Before I got religion, I was a great sinner; I got drunk, an' took de name of de Lord in vain. But now I is a conwerted man; I is bound for hebben; I toats de witness in my bosom; I feel dat my name is rote in de book of life. But dem niggers in de Vine Street Church las' night shout an' make sich a fuss, dey give me de headache. But, tank de Lord, I is got religion, an' now I'll be a preacher, and den dey'll call me de Rev. Alexander Washinton Napoleon Pompey Caesar. Now I'll preach and pull teef, bofe at de same time. Oh, how I wish I had Hannah wid me! Cuss ole massa, fer ef it warn't for him, I could have my wife wid me. Ef I hadn't religion, I'd say "Damn ole massa !" but as I is a religious man, an' belongs to de church, I won't say no sich a thing. But who is dat I see comin'? Oh, it's a whole heap of people. Good Lord! what is de matter? (Enter GLEN and MELINDA, left, followed by OFFICERS) GLEN Let them come; I am ready for them. He that lays hands on me or my wife shall feel the weight of this club. MELINDA Oh, Glen, let's die here, rather than again go into slavery. OFFICER I am the United States Marshal. I have a warrant from the Commissioner to take you, and bring you before him. I command assistance. (Enter Dr. GAINES, SCRAGG, and OFFICER, right) DR. GAINES Here they are. Down with the villain! down with him! but don't hurt the gal! (Enter Mr. WHITE, right) MR. WHITE Why, bless me! these are the slaveholding fellows. I'll fight for freedom! (takes hold of his umbrella with both hands. -- The fight commences, in which GLEN, CATO, Dr. GAINES, SCRAGG, WHITE, and the OFFICERS, take part. -- FERRYMAN enters, and runs to his boat. -- Dr. GAINES, SCRAGG and the OFFICERS are knocked down, GLEN, MELINDA and CATO jump into the boat, and as it leaves the shore and floats away, GLEN and CATO wave their hats, and shout loudly for freedom. -- Curtain falls ) Talking Points 1)Religion and Slavery 2)Word Play: Minstrelsy and Conversion 3)The symbolic resonance of Cato’s New Name 4)Fusing elements of melodrama, Romanticism, and minstelsy 5)Mr.White 6)Performative or Didactic or both and why?

20 The Escape… Combining Traditions Biography Theatrical Conventions of French Romanticism and Melodrama The Rituals and Artistic Production of Plantation Life Minstrelsy A Hybrid Black Theatre with a Dual Purpose

21 In Dahomey Minstrelsy Vaudeville Popular Art Folklore Musical Comedy/ Light Opera Farce designed to Lampoon “Repatriation” as a solution to the “Race Problem”

22 The History of the Minstrel Show 1)1769- Lewis Hallman performs is blackface in the play The Padlock 2) Performers of so-called “Negro Music” increasingly use blackface in their performances and are dubbed “minstrels” 3)1843- The Virginia Minstrels perform at the New York Bowery Ampitheatre 4)1843- E.P. Christy founds the Christy Minstrels, who establish the template for minstrel show for the next three decades 5) The rise of minstrelsy coincides with the growing abolitionist movement in the U.S., and isoften used as propaganda to promote the image of the contented slave 6)1860s- Blackface begins to serve as a sort of fool’s mask, allowing the performers to lampoon virtually anything without offending the audience. 7)1860s- The minstrel show increasingly becomes associated with social criticism during the Civil War, advocating for abolition, women’s rights, and temperance. Black performers begin to use blackface 8)1890s- Vaudeville gradually replaces minstrelsy as America’s favorite genre of theatrical comedy

23 The Structure of the Minstrel Show PART 1- The entire troupe danced onto stage singing a popular song. Upon the instruction of the interlocutor, a sort of host, they sat in a semicircle. Various stock characters always took the same positions: the genteel interlocutor in the middle, flanked by Tambo and Bones, who served as the endmen or cornermen. The interlocutor acted as a master of ceremonies and as a dignified, if pompous, straight man while the endmen exchanged jokes and performed a variety of humorous songs. Over time, the first act came to include maudlin numbers not always in dialect. One minstrel, usually a tenor, came to specialize in this part; such singers often became celebrities, especially with women. Initially, an upbeat plantation song and dance ended the act; later it was more common for the first act to end with a walkaround, including dances in the style of a cakewalk PART 2- The “olio”-” had of a variety show structure. Performers danced, played instruments, did acrobatics, and demonstrated other amusing talents. Troupes offered parodies of European-style entertainments, and European troupes themselves sometimes performed. PART 3/FINALE- Uusually one actor, typically one of the endmen, delivered a faux-black-dialect stump speech, a long oration about anything from nonsense to science, society, or politics, during which the dim- witted character tried to speak eloquently, only to deliver countless malapropisms, jokes, and unintentional puns. All the while, the speaker moved about like a clown, standing on his head and almost always falling off his stump at some point. With blackface makeup serving as fool’s mask, these stump speakers could deliver biting social criticism without offending the audience, although the focus was usually on sending up unpopular issues and making fun of blacks' ability to make sense of them.

24 Musical Number

25 Stump Speech

26 Endmen Comedy Routine

27 Endmen Dancing

28 Vaudeville: “The Heart of American Show Business ” 1)Vaudeville was a theatrical genre of variety entertainment in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s. 2)Each performance was made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill. 3)Types of acts included popular and classical musicians, dancers, comedians, trained animals, magicians, female and male impersonators, acrobats, jugglers, one-act plays or scenes from plays, minstrels and movies. 4)Although its origins may lie in Voix de Ville, it is a distinctly American form of polite, bourgeoisie entertainment.

29 In Dahomey? The origins of Dahomey (present day Benin) can be traced back to a group of Aja from the coastal kingdom of Allada who moved northward and settled among the Fon People of the interior. By about 1650, the Aja managed to dominate the Fon, and Wegbaja declared himself king of their joint territory. Based in his capital of Agbome, Wegbaja and his successors succeeded in establishing a highly centralized state with a deep- rooted kingship cult of sacrificial offerings. These included an emphasis on human sacrifices in large numbers, to the ancestors of the monarch Economically, however, Wegbaja and his successors profited mainly from the slave trade and relations with slavers along the coast. As Dahomey's kings embarked on wars to expand their territory, they began using rifles and other firearms traded with French and Spanish slave traders for young men captured in battle, who fetched a very high price from the European slave merchants.

30 Key Terms and Ideas 1)Minstrelsy 2)Atavistic Primitivism 3)Cultural Production as Cultural Fabric 4)Early Pan-Africanism: The Agenda of Origin 5)Black Nationalism and Internationalism 6)Hybridity 7)The (in)compatability of European Forms and African-American Expression 8)Using Theatre to Redress Issues and Concerns that, in part, are the creation of the theatre of times past (turning to minstrelsy to help solve the race promlem) 9)Meta-theatricality 10)The idea that the origin of African-American identity lies in the cultural production of the Southern plantation

31 Williams and Walker: A More Sophisticated Black Theatre? George Walker and Egbert Austin Williams were a vaudeville comedy team and had one of the most renowned and successful stage partnerships in American theatrical history. They decided to team up when they met in San Francisco in the early 1890's. Williams and Walker pioneered a new kind of "Black" humor and eventually developed their own company. With musical shows such as "Clorindy, the Origin of the Cakewalk," "Sons of Ham," and "In Dahomey," they opened the door for other African-American actors, singers, dancers, and musicians, and sought to redefine the boundaries of Black Theater.

32 Paul Lawrence Dunbar ( ) 1)The first African-American poet to garner national critical acclaim. 2)Dunbar penned a large body of dialect poems, standard English poems, essays, novels and short stories before he died at the age of 33. 3)His work often addressed the difficulties encountered by members of his race and the efforts of African-Americans to achieve equality in America. He was praised both by the prominent literary critics of his time and his literary contemporaries. 4) Dunbar decided to publish a book of poems. Oak and Ivy, his first collection, was published in ) In 1893, he was invited to recite at the World's Fair, where he met Frederick Douglass, the renowned abolitionist who rose from slavery to political and literary prominence in America. Douglass called Dunbar "the most promising young colored man in America." 6)Dunbar's second book, Majors and Minors propelled him to national fame. 7)In 1897, Dunbar traveled to England to recite his works on the London literary circuit. 8)In 1902, Dunbar and his wife separated. 9)He ultimately produced 12 books of poetry, four books of short stories, a play and five novels. His work appeared in Harper's Weekly, the Sunday Evening Post, the Denver Post, Current Literature and a number of other magazines and journals.

33 Will Marion Cook ( ) 1) The first great African-American composer for the musical stage. 2) Trained at the Oberlin Conservatory, the National Conservatory of Music in New York under Anton Dvorak and in Berlin, Germany at Hochschule fur Musik. 3) IN 1890, he begins to compose that drew on the idioms and themes of African-American folklore and music. 4) Throughout the 1890s and 1900s, he composed for the stage shows of Bert Williams, the leading black comic and vaudevillian. I 5) In 1889 Cook produced and wrote the music for Clorindy, the Origin of the Cakewalk. This debut in the theater world was a series of skits. The skits were written in an hour-long session between Cook and the celebrated African American dialect poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar. It was the first musical comedy written, directed, and performed entirely by African-American artists. The show opened at the Casino Theater Roof Garden in New York to rave reviews and enjoyed success on Broadway and in London. The beauty of the lead dancer Ada Overton Walker prompted the cakewalk dance craze among even the high- society of New York. 6) Named Composer-in-Chief and Musical Director for William Walker's Broadway shows. He went on to compose the music for a number of popular black musicals, including In Dahomey (1903) 7) Cook composed Abyssinia in 1906, but his reliance on ragtime left him behind the changing tastes. He led his Southern Syncopated Orchestra, a huge ragtime and concert ensemble, and composed "I'm Coming, Virginia" and "Mammy" in the 1910s. 8) His last European tour by his orchestra was in It was then that critics noted that he had developed an emerging jazz style

34 Jesse Shipp Writer, Director, Lyricist ON BROADWAY Productions Dates of Production Kilpatrick's Old-Time Minstrels [Original, Musical, Minstrel] Kilpatrick's Old-Time Minstrels Staged by Jesse A. Shipp Apr 19, Apr 26, 1930 The Green Pastures [Original, Play, Play with music] The Green Pastures Performer: Jesse A. Shipp [Abraham]; Performer: Jesse A. Shipp [Archangel] Feb 26, Aug 29, 1931 Mr. Lode of Koal [Original, Musical] Mr. Lode of Koal Book by Jesse A. Shipp; Lyrics by Jesse A. Shipp Nov 1, Dec 4, 1909 Bandanna Land [Original, Musical, Comedy] Bandanna Land Starring: Jesse A. Shipp [Mose Blackstone]; Staged by Jesse A. Shipp; Book by Jesse A. Shipp; Lyrics by Jesse A. Shipp Feb 3, Apr 18, 1908 Abyssinia [Original, Musical, Comedy] Abyssinia Performer: Jesse A. Shipp [The Affa Negus Tegulet]; Staged by Jesse A. Shipp; Dahomey [Original, Musical, Farce] Dahomey Performer: Jesse A. Shipp [Hustling Charley]; Book by Jesse A. Shipp Feb 18, Apr 4, 1903 Sons of Ham [Revival, Musical, Comedy] Sons of Ham Performer: Jesse A. Shipp [Professor Switchen]; Staged by Jesse A. Shipp; Book by Jesse A. Shipp Apr 29, May 4, The Policy Players [Original, Musical, Comedy, Farce] The Policy Players Directed by Jesse A. Shipp Oct 16, Apr 9, 1900


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