African American theatre functions as a vital repository of African American history as well as a site for authentic blackness. In this course we will excavate the history of African American theatre through engaging with some of the most groundbreaking plays produced through the efforts of black theatre artists. Through critical readings we will explore the major artist movements (The Harlem Renaissance, The Black Arts Movement, etc.) as well as efforts to use theatre as an instrument of social change. Through engaging with the past we will deepen our understanding of American history and cultural politics.
A major goal of this course is surveying the extensive canon of African American dramatic literature to gain an overview of the evolution of African American playwriting. Particular attention will be paid to recently emerging genres including plays confronting/deconstructing stereotypes and hip-hop theatre. There will be in-depth class discussions based on both the reading and writing assignments. Writing assignments will consist of 2-3 critiques of assigned plays and a review of a theatrical production. In class exercises will strengthen student’s skills in play script analysis.