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Living with LynchingAfrican American Lynching Plays, Performance, and Citizenship, 1890-1930$
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Koritha Mitchell

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036491

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036491.001.0001

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Redefining “Black Theater”

Redefining “Black Theater”

Chapter:
(p.43) Chapter Two Redefining “Black Theater”
Source:
Living with Lynching
Author(s):

Koritha Mitchell

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252036491.003.0003

This chapter demonstrates that the first black-authored lynching play, Rachel, by Angelina Weld Grimké, emerged in 1914 partly because the mainstream stage accepted black actors but limited them to comedy or white-authored material. Grimké and others thus began privileging playwriting over acting in order to control the race's representation. Nevertheless, African American intellectuals and artists came to value black dramatists because of the success of performers—even minstrels and musical comedians. Moreover, Grimké's Rachel proved influential enough to initiate the genre of lynching drama because other poets and fiction writers also began writing plays. As Grimké's successors offered generic revisions, their efforts helped to redefine black theater again. The chapter therefore identifies the differences and commonalities between their work and Grimké's.

Keywords:   Rachel, Angelina Weld Grimké, black authors, black dramatists, lynching drama, black theater

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