Sunday, November 16, 2014

Harlem Duet CSI

Harlem Duet CSI
Bianca Nicolosi and Conner Reed

  • Djanet Spears
    • Writes to tell stories about her culture and community
    • First black playwright to have her work performed at the Stratford Festival of Canada
    • Born in England to Guyanese father and Jamaican mother
    • Raised in England/Canada
  • The play is set at the intersection of MLK and Malcolm X; it’s a dialogue between their ideals
    • Martin Luther King Jr.
      • Focused on integration
      • Non-violent protest
    • Malcolm X
      • Supported black supremacy
      • Against the integration of blacks and whites
  • Harlem Renaissance
    • Cultural period in 1920s characterized by an influx of racial pride, centered in Harlem
    • Developed the concept of the “New Negro”, which Othello references
  • Jazz, blues, funk music
    • Mixture of music and politics starting each chapter
    • Culture of blues and music in black culture, particularly in Harlem, home of Jazz
  • Settings:
    • Three Settings; 1860’s (slaves), 1820’s (Harlem Renaissance), and “present”
    • Talks about how racial entrapment/dichotomies are timeless and cyclical
  • The difference between black things and white things
    • Canada talks about how Billie has always been averse to milk
      • She resents the idea that whiteness has always defined blackness
    • Othello has a complicated relationship with this duality
      • On the one hand, he sees his skin as irrelevant to his experience, which Billie characterizes as “white” and he simply characterizes as “American”
      • On the other, he resents his own “blackness” and passionately admits to preferring the liberation he’s afforded in being with a white woman
  • Adherence to mysticism/ritual
    • Early conversations between Magi and Amah discussing superstitious ways to keep a male partner (margarine on the buttocks, cooking a meal with laundry water)
    • Billie and her other avatars use mysticism as a part of their basic racial identity
      • Her books are made up of mystical texts juxtaposed with works about Africa and racial identity
    • “Jumping the broom”
  • African-Americans as entertainment
    • Hottentot Venus discussion highlights the white exploitation of black people for exotic, eccentric entertainments
    • Black “minstrel show” in 1920s
    • Othello feels that he is
  • “I have a dream” speech

    • Quoted by both Othello and Billie at separate points in the play
  • Othello
    • Relationship between Othello and Mona reflective of Othello and Desdemona
    • Frequently quotes Othello directly
  • Pericles
    • Mona offers “He” a leading role in Shakespeare’s Pericles
    • Pericles discusses the relationships between parents and children
    • Family focus
  • “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech by Sojourner Truth
    • Quoted by name when Billie is in the early stages of poisoning Othello’s handkerchief  
    • Billie’s identity as a black feminist shown here, as Truth was an early and crucial figure in the black feminist movement
  • Toni Morrison’s Beloved
    • Female counterparts to Othello frequently use the term “beloved”
    • Book deals with ghosts of a mother’s child haunting her from the past (Billie’s abortion)
  • Black Skin, White Masks by Frantz Fenon
    • Sociological texts that discusses the colonialist aspects of internalized racism; the empirical association of “blackness” with “badness”
    • Says that people lose their cultural identity by being made to feel “less”
    • Billie says Othello is suffering from “corporal malediction”, which originated from the text of this book
    • Alluded to in the 1920s setting where He performs in a minstrel show
    • Billie breaks Othello’s mask in the modern Harlem setting
  • Sybil
    • Billie’s real name “Sybil,” alluding to the ancient “Sibyl’s”- greek prophetesses and mystical women
    • Reference to movie Sybil where a woman is diagnosed with multiple personality disorder
    • Billie refers to herself as Sybil when in most “mystical” state and about to be institutionalized

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