Theorizing Black Theatre

Art Versus Protest in Critical Writings, 1898–1965


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About the Book

The rich history of African-American theatre has often been overlooked, both in theoretical discourse and in practice. This volume seeks a critical engagement with black theatre artists and theorists of the twentieth century. It reveals a comprehensive view of the Art or Propaganda debate that dominated twentieth century African-American dramatic theory. Among others, this text addresses the writings of Langston Hughes, W.E.B. DuBois, Alain Locke, Lorraine Hansberry, Amiri Baraka, Adrienne Kennedy, Sidney Poitier, and August Wilson. Of particular note is the manner in which black theory collides or intersects with canonical theorists, including Aristotle, Keats, Ibsen, Nietzsche, Shaw, and O’Neill.

About the Author(s)

Henry D. Miller is a veteran of the 1960s and 1970s black theatre movement. A director and playwright, he has written broadly about American theatre.

Bibliographic Details

Henry D. Miller
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 284
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-5937-7
eISBN: 978-0-7864-6014-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      viii

Foreword by James V. Hatch      1

Preface      3

Introduction      7

I. The Dawn of Black Dramatic Theory and the Art or Propaganda Debate Goes Public, 1898–1916      21

II. “The New Negro” and the High Harlem Renaissance: Core of 20th Century Black Dramatic Theory, 1917–1929      51

III. Black Theory in the Great Depression and Beyond, 1930–1949, Part I      86

IV. Black Theory in the Great Depression and Beyond, 1930–1949, Part II      117

V. Civil Rights vs. Integration and the Persistence of Art-Theatre Drama, 1950–1959      140

VI. The Rise of Black Arts Theory and the Persistence of Art-Theatre Drama, 1960–1965      179

VII. Back to the Future: Conclusion      217

Chapter Notes      235

Bibliography      253

Index      267

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Theorizing Black Theatre is the kind of book that you keep in your backpack and take out on the subway with pen in hand so you can take notes. Every couple of pages you will go over enough material to constitute an undergrad course in African American theatre and dramaturgy. Miller gives us a whole new look at our country and begins to undo the damage that segregation has done to our historical perspective”—African American Playwrights Exchange
• “This book can be rightfully described as a milestone…deserves a place in every library, academic to public”—Broadside