Citation

Performance Pedagogies: Blackness and Time in the Global South

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Abstract:

During the Civil Rights Movement and global campaigns for decolonization, community theater was a key cultural and political vehicle for people of African descent. More than entertainment, this community-oriented mode of performance was widely imagined as a form of education that would alter the intellectual and political landscapes of oppressed communities. From township theatre in South Africa to the Trinidad Theatre Workshop to the Free Southern Theatre in Mississippi, black community theatres across the Global South used performance to rattle the foundations of Jim Crowism, apartheid, colonialism, and other systems of oppression. In this paper, I argue that a key dimension of this work was elaborating the social meanings of time, and conveying the political stakes of temporality to the theatres’ generally marginalized audiences. Staging and repurposing plays like Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, these groups used theatrical performance to question the very nature of time. They asked, for example: why were black people admonished to go slow in laboring for freedom as the pace of social life—from NASA to the turnover times of capital—was rapidly speeding up? Using embodied performance, these theatres crafted pedagogies of dissent to critique this temporal dissonance at the heart of global modernity. Focusing in particular on the Free Southern Theater, this paper demonstrates how they used rehearsals, props, settings, and gestures, for example, to craft performance pedagogies through which they “taught” their audiences the social and political meanings of time. Ultimately, I argue that these performances are embodied articulations of black political and philosophical thought—acts, that is to say, that produced intellectual knowledge about the nature of time. Reading the philosophical substrate of black community theatre, this paper demonstrates that the enterprise of political and philosophical thought has not been restricted to writing but has also been a performance-based practice that is both critical and creative.
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Association:
Name: 102nd Annual Meeting and Conference of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History
URL:
http://www.asalh.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1286704_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Fleming Jr, Julius. "Performance Pedagogies: Blackness and Time in the Global South" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 102nd Annual Meeting and Conference of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza Hotel, Cincinnati, OH, <Not Available>. 2018-06-18 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1286704_index.html>

APA Citation:

Fleming Jr, J. B. "Performance Pedagogies: Blackness and Time in the Global South" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 102nd Annual Meeting and Conference of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza Hotel, Cincinnati, OH <Not Available>. 2018-06-18 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1286704_index.html

Publication Type: Abstract
Abstract: During the Civil Rights Movement and global campaigns for decolonization, community theater was a key cultural and political vehicle for people of African descent. More than entertainment, this community-oriented mode of performance was widely imagined as a form of education that would alter the intellectual and political landscapes of oppressed communities. From township theatre in South Africa to the Trinidad Theatre Workshop to the Free Southern Theatre in Mississippi, black community theatres across the Global South used performance to rattle the foundations of Jim Crowism, apartheid, colonialism, and other systems of oppression. In this paper, I argue that a key dimension of this work was elaborating the social meanings of time, and conveying the political stakes of temporality to the theatres’ generally marginalized audiences. Staging and repurposing plays like Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, these groups used theatrical performance to question the very nature of time. They asked, for example: why were black people admonished to go slow in laboring for freedom as the pace of social life—from NASA to the turnover times of capital—was rapidly speeding up? Using embodied performance, these theatres crafted pedagogies of dissent to critique this temporal dissonance at the heart of global modernity. Focusing in particular on the Free Southern Theater, this paper demonstrates how they used rehearsals, props, settings, and gestures, for example, to craft performance pedagogies through which they “taught” their audiences the social and political meanings of time. Ultimately, I argue that these performances are embodied articulations of black political and philosophical thought—acts, that is to say, that produced intellectual knowledge about the nature of time. Reading the philosophical substrate of black community theatre, this paper demonstrates that the enterprise of political and philosophical thought has not been restricted to writing but has also been a performance-based practice that is both critical and creative.


 
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