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Radical Black Theatre in the New Deal$
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Kate Dossett

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781469654423

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469654423.001.0001

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Leaping for Freedom: Black Theatre Manuscripts and Black Performance Communities

(p.1) Introduction
Radical Black Theatre in the New Deal

Kate Dossett

University of North Carolina Press

The introduction explores the significance of Black theatre manuscripts for histories of the Federal Theatre Project, Black literary heritage and the Radical Black tradition. Black theatre manuscripts developed on the Federal Theatre Project were not always staged or published, but they document Black creativity and theatrical innovation in the 1930s and constitute a crucial if overlooked part of American cultural history. Theatre histories that only include plays staged or published will invariably be histories of what was interesting or acceptable to whites. This book examines what was important and necessary to African Americans. It develops the idea of the Black Performance Community, a temporary community which performance creates among spectators, performers, directors, writers and others whose backstage roles shape manuscripts and performance. It argues that histories of Black theatre need to consider variant manuscripts, the communities of unacknowledged collaborators that shaped them over time, and the role of the archives and anthologies in shaping knowledge production about Black theatre.

Keywords:   Black theatre, archives, manuscripts, anthologies, Federal Theatre Project, Black dramatic literature, theatre history, Black Radical Tradition, Black Performance Community

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