358 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 23 halftones
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-5442-3
Published: February 2020
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-5441-6
Published: February 2020
eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-5443-0
Published: January 2020
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Awards & distinctions
2021 British Association of American Studies Book Prize
Tracing how African American playwrights and troupes developed these manuscripts and how they were then contested, revised, and reinterpreted, Dossett argues that these texts constitute an archive of black agency, and understanding their history allows us to consider black dramas on their own terms. The cultural and intellectual labor of black theatre artists was at the heart of radical politics in 1930s America, and their work became an important battleground in a turbulent decade.
About the Author
Kate Dossett is associate professor of history at the University of Leeds and the author of Bridging Race Divides: Black Nationalism, Feminism and Integration in the United States 1896–1935.
For more information about Kate Dossett, visit the Author Page.
“Theater productions from the 1930s by or about African Americans have often been marginalized, but Dossett . . . offers fresh insight into this subject.”--CHOICE
“A fascinating examination of the Black drama produced by the Federal Theatre Project (FTP)’s Negro Units in Harlem, Chicago, Hartford, and Seattle. . . . [Dossett] compellingly argues that Black drama created spaces, both literal and figurative, where Black Americans could express agency and enact visions for a new America.”—Journal of African American History
"Anyone who thinks they know the history of American theatre will have to read this book and think again. It's a revelation. The innovative force of black artists and theatre makers in this book will blow away any notion that radical theatre today needs to be invented. We already have a truly radical heritage to build on. Dossett shows us that our creative and intellectual life today is still shaped and informed by black theatre of the 1930s. Many of the plays discussed in this brilliant new book are not only fresh and visionary, but their sheer creative force is a challenge to the systems and ideologies that continue to oppress--and are as powerful and important as anything new being written for theatre today."--Naomi Wallace, author of One Flea Spare
"An interdisciplinary tour de force, Kate Dossett's trailblazing study of Black performance communities is a richly illuminating investigation into a revolutionary world. She works with Black theatre manuscripts not only to excavate but to examine the complicated, collaborative, and creative relationships experienced by playwrights, actors, directors, and audiences during the Federal Theatre era. In her powerful social, literary, cultural, and political history, she maps a myriad of Black acts of artistry, authorship, and activism to do hard-hitting justice to the pioneering ways in which Black performance communities 'imagined radical paths to the future.'"--Celeste-Marie Bernier, author of Characters of Blood: Black Heroism in the Transatlantic Imagination
"Dossett offers a nuanced, finely textured account of the black theatre manuscripts, productions, and communities. Her conception of the archive, innovative research method, and the care and insight with which she reads the many black performance texts she so painstakingly brings together is nothing short of remarkable."--Sonnet Retman, author of Real Folks: Race and Genre in the Great Depression