Download African-American performance and theater history : a by Harry Justin Elam; David Krasner PDF

By Harry Justin Elam; David Krasner

ISBN-10: 0195127242

ISBN-13: 9780195127249

An anthology of severe writings that explores the intersections of race, theater, and function in America.

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33 Those that did were no longer as strong as they had appeared in the novel. This is due partly to the nature of the audience, which McConachie reconstructs as primarily male, working class, and unlikely to have strong abolitionist leanings. For this group, the mulatto provides a particular attraction; she is a woman who, despite her white appearance, maintains a hidden darkness— the same darkness that Dyer links with male desire. This construction of the female implies a passivity, and thus a stronger, more assertive Cassy would be less desirable to the audience.

Cassy’s insinuations are essential to the success of the plan. She prods Legree’s fears about the haunted room where his mother died. Cassy tells Legree of the things that she has heard and seen in the room. When Legree checks the room, Eliza emerges dressed as they described. Later when Legree beats Tom, Cassy again suggests that his mother’s ghost is at hand. Then, at the moment Legree discovers the talisman that Tom carries and picks it up, Eva’s hair curls around his finger and he screams. Cassy says the hair comes from Legree’s murdered mother’s head, and in the window Eliza is visible in the bloody white dress.

Despite Topsy’s dehumanization, within the representational excess of black women’s portrayals on the nineteenth-century stage lies the possibility of subversion. In seeking to create a comic character who drew audiences accustomed to ludicrous black female impersonations, playwrights allowed Topsy to grow, and along with her stereotype, the revolutionary potential of Topsy became part of that representational excess. The extremity of her character, which makes it humorous, also makes it subversive.

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