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The Blacks (play)

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The Blacks
Written by
Jean Genet
Date premiered October 28, 1959
Place premiered Thtre de Lutce
Paris
Original language
French
The Blacks: A Clown Show (French: Les Ngres, clownerie) is a play by the French d
ramatist Jean Genet. Published in 1958, it was first performed in a production d
irected by Roger Blin at the Thtre de Lutce in Paris, which opened on 28 October 19
59.
Contents [hide]
1
Synopsis
2
In Genet's oeuvre
3
See also
4
References
5
Further reading
6
External links
Synopsis[edit]
A review of the Theatre Royal Stratford East production (2007) states:
Using the framework of a play within a play, it exposes racial prejudice and ste
reotypes while exploring black identity. As a troupe of black actors re-enact th
e trial and ensuing murder of a white woman before a kangaroo court, the Queen a
nd her entourage look on and comment. Five of the 13 black actors white up to pl
ay the establishment figures. The Queen (a whited-up woman) comes to a Command P
erformance, but the proceedings are far removed from any Royal Variety Show.[1]
In
In
he
cs

Genet's oeuvre[edit]
a prefatory note, Genet specifies the conditions under which he anticipates t
play would be performed, revealing his characteristic concern with the politi
and ritual of theatricality:

This play, written, I repeat, by a white man, is intended for a white audience,
but if, which is unlikely, it is ever performed before a black audience, then a
white person, male or female, should be invited every evening. The organizer of
the show should welcome him formally, dress him in ceremonial costume and lead h
im to his seat, preferably in the first row of the orchestra. The actors will pl
ay for him. A spotlight should be focused upon this symbolic white throughout th
e performance.
But what if no white person accepted? Then let white masks be distributed to the
black spectators as they enter the theater. And if the blacks refuse the masks,
then let a dummy be used.[2]
The Blacks was, after The Balcony, the second of Genet's plays to be staged in N
ew York. The production was the longest-running Off-Broadway non-musical of the
decade. This 1961 New York production opened on 4 May at the St. Mark's Playhous
e and ran for 1,408 performances. It was directed by Gene Frankel, with sets by
Kim E. Swados, music by Charles Gross, and costumes and masks by Patricia Zippro
dt. The original cast featured James Earl Jones as Deodatus, Roscoe Lee Browne a
s Archibald, Louis Gossett, Jr., as Edgar, Cicely Tyson as Stephanie, Godfrey Ca
mbridge as Diouf, Maya Angelou as the White Queen and Charles Gordone as the bur
glar.
Shi Mei Li directed the play in 1983.[3]
See also[edit]
Theater of the Absurd

Whiteface (performance)
References[edit]
Jump up ^ Guardian Review
Jump up ^ Genet (1958, 4).
Jump up ^ Bradby (1998, 417).
Further reading[edit]
Bradby, David. 1998. "Genet, Jean." In The Cambridge Guide to Theatre. Ed. Marti
n Banham. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 417. ISBN 0-521-43437-8.
Genet, Jean. 1960. The Blacks: A Clown Show. Trans. Bernard Frechtman. New York:
Grove Press. ISBN 0-8021-5028-4.
External links[edit]
The Blacks at the Internet off-Broadway Database
The Blacks, A Clown Show Article in American Thinker, 2012 in which a screed abo
ut Obama, postmodern studies, etc. is given from a conservative viewpoint. Appar
ently refers to a 2012 performance at St. Mark's Playhouse.
[hide] v t e
Works by Jean Genet
Prose
Our Lady of the Flowers The Miracle of the Rose Funeral Rites Querelle of Brest
The Thief's Journal
Drama
The Maids Deathwatch The Balcony The Blacks The Screens
Film
A Song of Love