Leaping for Freedom: Black Theatre Manuscripts and Black Performance Communities
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.
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