Return of the Repressed

Return of the Repressed The prologue of Spell #7 by Ntozake Shange. Photo: Martha Swope Performances similar to these — minstrel shows — happened regularly across much of the nineteenth century, but few saw the need to apologize for them, and even fewer found moral value in them (until recently). The politics became more difficult to interpret when blacks themselves took up the minstrel mask directly after the Civil War, and the same has been true during what can only be called the return of minstrelsy in American culture at the turn of the twentieth century. In Seattle in August 1997, the visual artist Kara Walker created a flyer aimed at gallerygoers. Its typeface and layer-cake design evoked a slave auction bill or a nineteenth-century theatrical advertisement. It read, in part: The Henry Art Gallery is given the opportunity to present to you Our Negro Brethren {works of certain interest} created entirely by a young Negress of unusual ability. Walker, the “young Negress,” designed the ad to promote her huge cutout panoramas, in silhouette, of warped bodice-ripper fantasies dug up from the muck of the Old South, shaded by paper-doll magnolia trees and Spanish moss. Walker’s silhouettes are as dense, weird, delicate, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Theater Duke University Press

Return of the Repressed

Theater, Volume 32 (2) – Jan 1, 2002

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2002 by Yale School of Drama/Yale Repertory Theatre
ISSN
0161-0775
eISSN
1527-196X
DOI
10.1215/01610775-32-2-27
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The prologue of Spell #7 by Ntozake Shange. Photo: Martha Swope Performances similar to these — minstrel shows — happened regularly across much of the nineteenth century, but few saw the need to apologize for them, and even fewer found moral value in them (until recently). The politics became more difficult to interpret when blacks themselves took up the minstrel mask directly after the Civil War, and the same has been true during what can only be called the return of minstrelsy in American culture at the turn of the twentieth century. In Seattle in August 1997, the visual artist Kara Walker created a flyer aimed at gallerygoers. Its typeface and layer-cake design evoked a slave auction bill or a nineteenth-century theatrical advertisement. It read, in part: The Henry Art Gallery is given the opportunity to present to you Our Negro Brethren {works of certain interest} created entirely by a young Negress of unusual ability. Walker, the “young Negress,” designed the ad to promote her huge cutout panoramas, in silhouette, of warped bodice-ripper fantasies dug up from the muck of the Old South, shaded by paper-doll magnolia trees and Spanish moss. Walker’s silhouettes are as dense, weird, delicate,

Journal

TheaterDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2002

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