Thea l05 Intro to African American Theatre

prof.: Von H. Washington, Ph.D.
Office: 1110 GTC
Office Hours: Tue 1 -3 p.m.
Phone: 387-39l4

Dunbar 3207
Sec: 11567 MW 2-3:15
Sec: 31248 MW 4-5:15

Description: A survey/lecture course examining the activities and developments of African Americans as evidenced through their theatre, with emphasis on history, philosophy, dramatic creations, criticism, and socio-psychological concerns. Includes lectures on the theatrical contributions of Western and African civilizations.

Rationale: Traditionally the American approach to the study of World Theatre begins with a brief description of ritual in Northern Africa and then progresses quickly to the developments of Classical Greece. It then moves forward to the countries of Italy, England, Spain, Germany, Russia and America. As in many cases with historical studies, the process of examination reveals the majority perspective on the life of the society. This is particularly evident in American historical studies. Because of slavery and racism, this course of examination omitted the contributions and activities of the African American population. More over, it created a slanted view of African contributions to the “Classical period.” As a result of this, for many years practically all activities chronicling the life, artistic developments, and contributions of the African Americans were ignored by main stream historians/educators and when examined, done so from a racist, uninformed, and denigrating point-of-view.

Goals: This course is designed to (1) introduce students to concepts and materials that will aid in providing an accurate evaluation of the life and contributions of African Americans, (2) aid in developing analytical skills for proper assessment of those contributions, and (3) aid in forming a methodology for study of theatre as a “mirror of life” from a world, group, and individual perspective.

Requirements: Because the course is based on lectures, reading assignments, discussions, and examinations, attendance is mandatory (two {2} unexcused absences will result in grade reduction). All class work will begin on time and not be repeated for late arrivals. Lecture notes must be taken, all reading assignments must be completed, and each student must participate in class discussion by volunteering or when selected to do so.

Text: The Theatre of Black Americans, Eroll Hill/A Raisin in the Sun, L. Hansberry/, Roots and Blossoms: African American Plays for Today, Daphne Ntiri/Dutchman, Amiri Baraka (Leroi Jones) / Autobiography of a Homegirl, Yvette Heyliger.

Grading: Attendance, participation, and 5 quizzes (best 4 taken) 25%/ mid-term and final exams 25% each. Five video reports (2 pages typed or word processor: essay format [check library/must include—who, what, when, where, why, and how].) A good essay has a thesis statement, support materials, and a conclusion.) Attend one theatrical production designated by the instructor. 25%/All assignments must be completed to receive a passing grade.


Intro to African American Theatre/Calendar


3 Introductions/Overview/Syllabus /Theatre: A mirror of life.

8 Lecture: Afro centric Perspective / Discuss: Some African Influences on the Afro-American Theatre by James Hatch
10 Lecture: Africa/Egypt/Ritual (Brockett)

15 Lecture: The Greeks/Dramatic Structure (Brockett)
17 Lecture: The Roman Empire and the Middle Ages (Brockett)

22 Lecture: Neoclassicism/Renaissance (Brockett)
24 Lecture: The Age of Enlightenment/Modern Theatre

29 Video: Slavery Part I
1 Video: Slavery Part II (Report Due)

6 Lecture: African American Developments / The Grove (Report Due)
8 Mid Term Review

13 Mid Term Exam
15 Read / Discuss --“The Lafayette Players”

20 Video: Lift Every Voice
22 Read / Discuss: “The Role of Blacks in the Federal Theatre” (Report Due)

27 Video: Without Fear or Shame
29 Discuss-- “Mom, Dad, and God: Values in Black Theatre” Quiz 1 (Report Due)

3 Reading: “The American Negro Theatre”
5 Discuss: “A Raisin in the Sun” Quiz 2

10 Reading: “Notes on Ritual in the New Black Theatre”
12 Discuss: “Family Reunion” Quiz 3

17 Video: The Dream Keepers
19 Discuss: ”The National Black Theatre” (Report Due)

24 Reading--“Dutchman” Quiz 4
26 Thanksgiving Recess

1 Discuss-- “ “Autobiography of a Homegirl” Quiz 5
3 Review for Final

8 Final Exam 31248 5-7 p.m.
10 Final Exam 11567 2:45 -4:45 p.m.