How do we understand the human conditions?
Over the last two weeks we have been spending our time discussing “African American Theatre” the artists who have made substantial impacts to the genre and the to the culture at large and how we view these values, issues, histories, and social conflicts today as we reflect on the past. We have been doing this with the vehicle of the Theatre, the compelling stories and dynamic characters of our recent Black American History that have sprung from the roots, remembering’s and re-telling’s of what actually happened in our past and how we as a society wrestled with it then and today.
Last week you watched Fences and this week you watched Dutchman. Again we are looking at two playwrights who are challenging our view of the past and how the struggle for certain races to succeed and to rise in a white dominated world view are hampered and faltered not only by modern society, the social norms and decorum or code of conduct of the day, but also by the personal struggle and need for self identity in the face of a very rooted value system that had been lived in and ascribed to since reconstruction.
Now that you have done the reading and are able to reflect over the past two weeks, I would like you to wrestle with this quote from Notes on Dutchman.
“Baraka challenges the black community to produce art that portrays the human condition, and provides The Dutchman as a paradigm”………”It must be produced from the legitimate emotional resources of the soul in the world. It can never be produced by evading these resources”
What is the human condition that Baraka speaks to? How is the SYMBOL of the Dutchman (The name of an Infamous slave-ship in the 1700’s) and the train that the play takes place in, provide a “PARADIGM” for more effective storytelling? How do we understand the human condition (as Baraka sees it) in a better way? What are “legitimate emotional resources of the soul”? What does Baraka mean when he says this? Do you agree with his stance? Why or why not?
Now, as we look at this topic through the lens of our present day and 2017, how do you feel we are doing as a society in providing entertainment and the telling of stories (Theatre, film, T.V.) about civil rights generally, black history, and how we have progresses as a society since the first time that Dutchman or A Raisin in the Sun first made an impact on the American public and body-politic? How do we see recent movements like “Black Lives Matter” in the larger scope and context of this on-going historical conversation?
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