Aristotle and Black Drama: A Theatre of Civil Disobedience
Civil disobedience has a tattered history in the American story. Described by Martin Luther King Jr. as both moral reflection and political act, the performance of civil disobedience in the face of unjust laws is also, Patrice Rankine argues, a deeply artistic practice. Modern parallels to King’s civil disobedience can be found in black theater, where the black body challenges the normative assumptions of classical texts and modes of creation. This is a theater of civil disobedience.
Utilizing Aristotle’s Poetics, Rankine ably invokes the six aspects of Aristotelian drama—character, story, thought, spectacle, song, and diction. He demonstrates the re-appropriation and rejection of these themes by black playwrights August Wilson, Adrienne Kennedy, and Eugene O’Neill. Aristotle and Black Drama frames the theater of civil disobedience to challenge the hostility that still exists between theater and black identity.
Rankine, Patrice. Aristotle and Black Drama: A Theatre of Civil Disobedience. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2013.