NYU Black Renaissance Noire Winter 2014 - Page 68

So did Amiri Baraka’s theater go dark after Dutchman? I asked his producer Woodie King, Jr., somebody who knows what he’s talking about and somebody who is not merely poised to pull the wool over the eyes of people who know less than he. He writes that “after the Obie award-winning Dutchman (1964), white critics refused to focus on his work because Baraka focused on Black Arts and The Black Arts Movement. His work at The Black Arts Repertory Theatre (1965-66) in particular incensed the downtown critics.” Baraka would not deal with Edward Albee, Richard Barr & Clinton Wilder (his producers on Dutchman). He changed from LeRoi Jones to Amiri Baraka and did not give his plays to many non-black theatres. The exception might have been The Life and Life of Bumpy Johnson with music by Max Roach at the San Diego Repertory Theatre in the late ‘90s. But from the late 1960s to the present, it was mostly Rome Neal and me who produced numerous Baraka plays. 66 I, for example, produced the following Amiri Baraka plays: Great Goodness of Life (A Coon Show) (1970) — part of A Black Quartet (1968) directed by Irving Vincent; Slaveship – music by Archie Shepp (1968/69) nyc/Paris/Zurich; A Recent Killing (1975/76) directed by Irving Vincent; Boy & Tarzan Meet in a Clearing (1981/82) directed by George Ferenz; Sidnee Poet Heroica (1974/75) directed by Amiri Baraka; Remembering WeSelves (2002/3) directed by Elizabeth Van Dyke; The Toilet (2008/9) directed by Rony Clanton; The Most Dangerous Man in America — a play about WEB Du Bois in development for 6 or 7 years, first read at the Schomburg with Ossie Davis as WEB. Now, with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (nea), Paul Carter Harrison directs Rome Neal’s brilliant work on two of Baraka’s plays scheduled for November 2014. I had the opportunity to see Meeting Lillie at the Nuyorican Café which was so well received that it was selected for presentation at the National Black Theatre Festival. Given such a prolific catalog, why does Gates and the post-race crowd reduce Baraka’s career to Dutchman? Incidentally a revival of Dutchman was called “de Wǒ֗6