NYU Black Renaissance Noire Fall 2013 - Page 72

(RE) Branding Black Theatre By PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF MICHAEL HARRIS. PAUL CARTER HARRISON k Paul Carter Harrison. Subhead As a prelude to the discussion of branding Black Theatre, it might be pro?table to quote the late J.C. DeGraft, the Ghanian Dramatist/Historian who sagely observed: “ …if drama is at heart a goddess, she manifests herself in many ways, many shapes, many voices…given the in?nite variety of preoccupations which men bring to her shrine, that manifestation which may constitute nothing but sheer boredom for one pilgrim may be the essence of revelation for another, touching off whatever it is in him that enables him to achieve communion with the goddess of the shrine. It seems… ultimately what matters is not how the goddess manifests herself, but what degree of readiness to self-surrender each pilgrim brings to the shrine with him and how much spiritual power the priests of the shrine bring to bear on the rituals of the goddess. ” 70 J.C. De Graft What does it mean, then, when the black experience…both domestically and globally…is re-enacted as a stage event under the appellation Black Theatre? When we go to the super market and select from a variety of soft-drink beverages the taste that satisfies our palates, we are most discerning about the difference between Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola… or root beer from ginger beer. Analogously, it does not require any remarkable sense of acuity to distinguish the different aesthetic persuasion and purpose between Tyler Perry and August Wilson, Lydia Diamond and Adrienne Kennedy, Rita Dove and Derek Walcott, Katori Hall and James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry and Susan Lori Parks, their expressive production, governed by different motives and aspirations, having appeal to a varied segment of the black community. So why, then, beyond color, are they lumped together under the aesthetic objectives of Black Theatre when their expressive strategies are as different as the vibrant pianistic solos of the German-born black protégé, Andre Watts, playing a Franz Liszt Sonata and the North Carolinian-born jazz innovator Thelonius Monk performing “Blessed Assurance.” And since their performance objectives are \?]?Y???H\?[?????[???]\?X?H?]X?[?]\?XH?]?[X]HZ\?\???X[??\??[?B?Y??\?[? \?\??X?\??\?H??[?X??\?]B?\?Z\?[?HY??\?[??\??]?Y[???P??[?H?^??? \?[??\??????[?H[?[????]?B?[?8?)????[????????Q?S L? L?[?? ???K?L??L? L??SB??