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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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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 21 May 2022

They Love to Watch Us Dance

They Love to Watch Us Dance

Exposing the Mask in Black Living Newspapers

(p.78) 2 They Love to Watch Us Dance
Radical Black Theatre in the New Deal

Kate Dossett

University of North Carolina Press

The evolving relationship between Black performers, and white and Black spectators, is central to the story of Black federal theatre. Chapter 2 examines what happens when Black performance and white spectatorship become the focus of the drama itself. It examines Abram Hill and John Silvera’s Liberty Deferred, alongside Stars and Bars, a satirical newspaper developed by the Hartford Negro Unit but usually credited solely to the white dramatist Ward Courtney. Both newspapers position white and Black spectators as objects of the Black gaze and both mock the pretensions to radical innovation by white Living Newspapers such as One Third of a Nation. Scholarship on the Federal Theatre’s Living Newspaper relies almost entirely on Living Newspapers developed and staged by white theatre practitioners. This chapter argues that Black Living Newspapers developed a variety of techniques to unmask the performative devices used within white Living Newspapers that consolidate even as they critique the racial discourses which enforce Black subordination. In so doing, they compelled white FTP administrators to engage with the history and practice of Black performance and white spectatorship.

Keywords:   Living Newspaper, Liberty Deferred, Stars and Bars, Abram Hill, Ward Courtney, Hartford Negro Unit, One Third of a Nation, realism, Black performance, white spectatorship

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