Black Aesthetics

In: Film and Music

Submitted By rswain17
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“…Although the play takes place within the Black community, the themes of alcoholism, parental abuse, and self abuse are universal themes and that is the author’s intent— to show universality.
-Dael Orlandersmith, Playwright of “Yellowman”
In Mikell Pinkney’s On the Historical Development of African American Dramatic
Theory; or, The Roots of Black Theatre Aesthetics, the reader is introduced to the dramaturgical criteria for “serious” African American theatre which is that it is: about us, by us, for us, and near us. These four tenants were introduced by W.E.B. Dubois and used to assess dramatic pageants of his time and have steadily been used as a basis for African American modern text. Dael
Orlandersmith’s Yellowman, a two person play which investigates the corrosive prejudices within the Black community, lends itself to universal understanding of Black Americans who are conscious of their African existence before they were deemed African-Americans. Through
Orlandersmith’s expressive telling of the South Carolina Gullah/Geechie culture, the play adheres to W.E.B DuBois criteria of African American drama while also offering the viewer a full understanding of prejudices understood universally no matter their race or creed.
According to Pinkney, “From the earliest portrayals of Blacks in American theatre (ca. late 18th Century) through the development and institutionalization of the minstrel show (ca. early 20th Century), the Negro image was given little if any respect or justice on American stages.” The human experience through the African and African American gaze was not fully realized. Through a series of milestone eras for the dramatic movement, African Americans were taking ownership of their stories. During the Harlem Renaissance, the emergence of the New
Negro: An Interpretation, a famous anthology spearheaded by Alain Locke, was created.…...

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