By Harry Justin Elam; David Krasner
An anthology of severe writings that explores the intersections of race, theater, and function in America.
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Extra info for African-American performance and theater history : a critical reader
Tom Shows” changed the landscape of American theater, increased its audience base, and spawned a long-lasting genre of their own. The essence of stereotype was present in Stowe’s novel, yet the embodiment that occured on stage added another dimension to it. On stage, ideas achieve corporeality, and the stereotype gains a greater semblance of reality. In Unmarked, Peggy Phelan contends: Performance implicates the real through the presence of living bodies. In spectatorship there is an element of consumption: there are no left-overs, the gazing spectator must try to take everything in.
She is complicated by her relationship to her own family, and the mere presence of that family gives her an identity outside of her white masters. She grows larger than simply a vehicle for establishing the whiteness of the other characters. In addition to Chloe, a ﬁgure that is given the name “Mammy” appears in Stowe’s novel and dramatization. Although Mammy appears in neither the Aiken nor the Conway version of the play, she is important to discuss because she functions in the roles that Morrison assigns to black characters in white literature.
Stowe added a third type of black female character: Topsy, the disrespectful child who “never was born” yet became an icon of the American imagination. In her creation, Stowe engaged in the highly ambivalent process of stereotyping that, in Homi Bhabha’s description, attempts to ascribe a “ﬁxity” to a subject. ”2 Stowe’s characters merely repeated what had already been “ﬁxed” by earlier racial discourse. ”3 Although these ﬁgures had a symbolic value, they were implicated in the stereotypes of the time.