Guide Critical Reflections on Black History

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I understand, from these references, that the invisibility in the Brazilian dramaturgy in the beginning of the 20th century can be understood in two senses: When the black character starts being noticed as a society member, it emerges in the theatrical scene, still representing a slave. Thus, the black character representation will now occur based on racial paradigms - because of the creation of characters that reflect racial stereotypes, disseminating an understanding of inferiority or virility, both represented by their ethical and non-trustable behavior and the manner of acting in search of advantages, setting up a kind of an image reflection of the black character created by the racist ideology within the fictional space.

This situation will be modified with the emergence of theatrical groups, social movements that will claim an affirmative black, non-stereotyped identity. Beyond invisibility, Leda Maria Martins states that the black character represented in this period was defined by an unspeakability, according to the author: It is interesting to highlight that the very notion about characters suggests us a political-ideological aspect. So, it is necessary to investigate, in an analysis, which paradigms are being re produced within the fictional space.

Critical Reflections on Black History by W. D. Wright - Praeger - ABC-CLIO

When I emphasize the ideological and political elements, I search for a strangeness position before the neutralized dramatic representations in the Brazilian stages. Thus, the rascal and virile black, or the exotic mulatta, are figures carried with paradigms and signs that spread the skin color stigma, guided by the scientific racism, as we already seen. The striking representation that emerges in the end of the 19th century is the slave.

Restrict to his condition, the black person will be represented as an extra in the Brazilian stages, like a part of the society. The historian points out a series of dramatic works in her book Mendes, in which the black character is reduced to the social condition. Consequently, slavery is presented as something intrinsic to the black people, without questioning the context and slave condition imposed by the colonialist system.

The black characters, even when appearing with more defined outlines and with a certain dramatic intensity, announces their social condition and justifies their dramatic action through this. It is important to question this natural aspect. As I have been mentioning in this article, the naturalization process is linked to the biologic-deterministic comprehension that, for me, exempts the historical and political responsibility of the colonization processes. The notion that this person is naturally inferior is the ideological mark of a scientific theory that legitimated such condition; therefore, from such theses and arguments, such racial policy produced a series of discriminatory discourses.

Ritchie Blackmore & Candice Night in discussion 2006

According to Roubine , p. Scientific conquest, colonial conquest, aesthetic conquest… The original ghost of the naturalist illusionism is not anything but this omniscient utopia, which is proposed to proof that we dominate the world reproducing it. I insist on this aspect because a historic problematic lies here. Researchers such as Leda Maria Martins and the studies from Miriam Garcia Mendes present a concern for the Brazilian dramatic production and reveal the presence of a racial discourse permeated in the dramatic representations.

So, the issue that remains is how to subvert these racial stigmas in the theatrical field? The challenge is urgent and, beyond the thematic question, the contemporary playwrights and artists also deal with the tensions from their own dramatic structures. To continue the reflection, I highlight that the black character in the theatrical scene deals with the tension within the dramatic structure and the historical-social tension. So, following up, I will address the structural questions that are relevant to dramaturgy. In general, the Brazilian theatre, which followed the French theatre molds, focused on the text as the main aspect of the scene.

It is also in the 20th century that the moment for transformation of the European theatrical scene occurs, bringing the director figure as the main rupture in the end of this period. With so many structural concerns, the dramaturgy, as well as the theatre, presented ruptures that are easily found in theatre history books nowadays. If outside the stages the black person figure was subjugated to a racial hierarchy, within the theatrical space that character presented very specific traces - reproducing, as already mentioned in this article, the scientific discourses related to the racial inferiority and superiority.

Concerning the performing art, it used, improved and even invented techniques, each one being a way to view, materialize, face an action, situations, characters, whatever had been previously imagined by a writer. As stated by Roubine , p. In the contemporaneity, I have been noticing that the black character will face at least two challenges within the theatre: Although the contemporary dramaturgy, in studies such as from the German theoretical Hans-Thies Lehmann , had questioned the dramatic structure limits and raised an intense discussion about the post-dramatic, I observe that the Brazilian black dramaturgy still needs to create effective and protagonist roles in which the black character subverts a theatrical historic guided by characters full with social paradigms that were constructed by a colonizer bias: That way, we will find black writers who adopt a dramatic structure to deal with themes that are relevant for the Afro-Brazilian culture and history, presenting a political bias with the intention to question the stigmas produced by the racist ideology.

The second challenge is to face its own dramatic structure, but in the opposite side of a Eurocentric perspective - i.

Critical Reflections on Black History

Departing from this last challenge, I will highlight that the theatrical hegemonic tradition, when considering the text as a central element, excluded other eastern and African artistic practices. Though Victor Turner, Richard Schechner and even Eugenio Barba, with the Theatrical Anthropology, enable an opening for the understanding of the performing arts, they are theories that lie on a certain intellectual axis The provocation I make at this moment involves what is tangible for the hegemonic theoretical theatrical production.

I do not want to suggest a geographic determinism with this statement, but I want to discuss the need to rethink the theoretical perspective adopted in the theatrical field. Somehow, the question I outline here is the one announced by Chimamanda Adichie, but that is now adapted to the theatrical context: It is in this field that perhaps the greatest contemporary tension resides, because, if on one hand we have the need to re see the black character represented within a dramatic structure, on the other hand, the very understanding of the dramaturgy would start to be overhauled whereas the dramatic hegemonic invention expelled a plural notion about theatre, related both to the ritual and to the strategies of resistance.

The black person, in an imposed condition, created strategies to survive and resist the dominant system. These strategies pass from the creation of structures, non-verbal codes, to artistic-cultural practices, such as dance, singing and drumming. Thus, the resistance strategies, besides being understood as transgression acts, became ways to act, ritualize and face the colonial system. The body, as will be defended by Tavares, becomes a file and a weapon. And here, I open a space to dialogue with the author. The need to resist and the search for reconnection with the cultural practices claimed from the African continent compose, in my point of view, a complex African diasporic dramaturgy in the Brazilian territory, in which art, religiosity and political action interlace.

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Quoting Tavares once again, the body will by a powerful element. With the theatre being a space for the encounter and search of corporal practices that transmute the meanings that are immerse in the daily routine, I dare to say that, at this point, the artistic and cultural practices created from the diasporic context are political actions, ways to act in the world, ethical and challenging answers to intervene and transgress the imposed colonial knowledge. They also bring to us theatrical aspects to be investigated, constituents of a resistance dramaturgy.

In this paper, I searched for a critical perception regarding the black character construction and, for this, I highlighted widespread neutralist scientific studies, specially over the 19th century. The racial paradigms justified the scientific racism and produced numberless stereotypes in the social imaginary, reinforcing the skin color as a criterion to classify and legitimate attitudes as well as ethical and moral conducts. Also in the theatre field, I believe that the challenges of an Afro-Brazilian dramaturgical production are found in the urgency to deconstruct and construct references that present the black character as a powerful dramatic element while, at the same time, it is necessary to face the limits of a performing structure.

I believe that this point brings into discussion the need to rethink the theatrical art as a political space, which produced characters historically marked by a naturalist heritage. As stated by Leda Maria Martins , p. Through these continuous marks in the dramatization of the black persona, the theatrical conventionalization repeats a knowledge discourse that proposes itself as truth. Therefore, understanding the theatre as a place for creation of images, a space of representation, it is necessary to try creating other meanings, manufacture other semantics for this black sign produced by the Brazilian dramaturgy.

These derogatory values, mentioned in the representation scope, constitute an objectification process of the black sign, turning it into the product of hegemonic discourses.

Critical Reflections on Black History

In this sense, I agree with Leda Maria Martins , p. It is about realizing the power of the dramatic and historic narrative production. Over the text, I made considerations and approaches about the neutralist theories produced in the scientific field and the neutralist movement that invades the theatrical performance. This perspective guided a lot of theatrical theories about the staging, confusing - sometimes - with other historic theatrical movement, the realism. In a general way, my questions walked into a perception regarding the black character stigmatization.

This is a crucial point for the discussion in the theatrical field about the racism effects, deepen as an integral topic about the theatrical perform and theories. What I present in this article is that the black character invisibility is crossed by the absence of a theatrical representation, i. Thus, we would have the following tensions: I believe that these quoted tensions are linked to the colonization process. Thus, the concentration of historical narratives from a single perspective would set up a colonial position, in the sense to expropriate knowledges, deconstituting them from their historical, cultural and social contexts.

For Kabengele Munanga , p. Finally, in face of the social-political complexity, I understand that it still fits, within the theatrical field, investigations about the Afro-Diasporic aesthetical particularities and a visibility process regarding the theatrical theories that question the hegemonic knowledge, understanding the Afro-Brazilian history and culture as a non-transversal theme, but as an integral topic of the theatrical knowledge. A Cena em Sombras. A Personagem Negra no Teatro Brasileiro. Jorge Zahar Editora, Companhia das Letras, Companhia das Letras , Cosac Naify , This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.

Services on Demand Journal. Performance and Ethnic-racial Relations Black Characters: Race; Character; Black; Theatre; Playwriting. Introduction In recent years acting as a researcher, I have noticed a need to develop a reflection about race, racism and the Afro-Brazilian culture in the artistic field.

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Below, I highlight an excerpt where the author underlines the ideological position of the neutralist scientists: The anthropologist also explains that: According to the author: In another part of his text, he emphasizes: Final Remarks In this paper, I searched for a critical perception regarding the black character construction and, for this, I highlighted widespread neutralist scientific studies, specially over the 19th century. July 31, ; Accepted: Each essay is based upon a critical historical methodology that is comprised of, among other things, a racial analysis, an intersectional analysis, rigorous logic, conceptual integrity, and a critical analysis of ideas, words, and images.

Critical of the romantic approach to the subject, Wright seeks to uncover a deeper analysis, knowledge, and truth regarding aspects of black history, even when it involves the presentation of material and viewpoints that some might find objectionable. He predicates these pieces on the idea that history is still a valuable subject, firmly rejecting the postmodern view that it has lost its validity. Wright demonstrates that black history is a vital and necessary subject, not only for black people, but for all Americans. A critical black history is itself, Wright contends, a device to evaluate American history in a critical manner, to get into the subject more deeply, and to adduce deeper knowledge and truths about it.

These essays show the author's interest in strengthening that critical capacity of black historical writing and his belief that this is a primary and necessary means to maintain the viability and productivity of the academic discipline and to ward off its detractors. What is Black History? Race, Racism, and Slavery"Of Mr. Wright argues with personal passion that the field of black scholarship will greatly benefit from defining its categories and seeking objectivity in its analyses.