Langston Hughes: Folk Dramatist in the Protest Tradition, 1921-1943

By Joseph McLaren | Go to book overview

uncertainty regarding his audience. While "Cora's role embodies the struggle of a black audience" concerned with the past, the conflict of Robert and Norwood "speaks more directly to a white audience." 73 However, the complexity of Mulatto derives from its focus on three principal characters rather than on a single protagonist. This multiple focus should be considered a strength rather than a weakness because the play speaks to different audiences at the same time, presenting varied meanings for black and white observers.

Although some observers thought Mulatto "had neither the penetration nor the beauty of his [ Hughes's] poetic works, nor the gay humor and theatre values of his comedies When the Jack Hollers and Little Ham," it stands as a record breaking production whose faults and achievements must be shared by the playwright and those involved in its various productions. 74


NOTES
1.
William B. Branch, introduction, Black Thunder: An Anthology of Contemporary African American Drama, ed. William B. Branch ( New York: Mentor, 1992) xxi-xxii.
2.
Sam Smiley, The Drama of Attack: Didactic Plays of the American Depression ( Columbia: U of Missouri P, 1972) 163.
3.
James V. Hatch, Sorrow Is the Only Faithful One: The Life of Owen Dodson ( Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1993) 56.
4.
Fannie Ella Hicklin, "The American Negro Playwright, 1920-1964", diss., U of Wisconsin, 1965, 253.
5.
Onwuchekwa Jemie, Langston Hughes: An Introduction to the Poetry ( New York: Columbia UP, 1976) xxx.
6.
Langston Hughes, Mulatto, ts., cat. #705, LHP-YUBL. The first draft, dated September 13-16, 1930, Hedgerow, essentially contains the same characters as the final draft. Originally, however, Hughes included the character Livonia, "a Negro cook and house-servant," only mentioned in the published version. Mose, "a Negro chauffeur" for Mr. Higgins, is in the first draft. Another minor change involves the name given to Sallie. She had originally been called Leonora. Hughes's early revisions include various inserts involving monologue changes and patterns of dialogue.
7.
Arnold Rampersad, The Life of Langston Hughes, Vol. I: 1902-1941, I, Too, Sing America ( New York: Oxford UP, 1986) 191.
8.
"Tragic Play on Race Question", New York Times 8 Aug. 1935: 13. The "outspoken and brutally frank" Dobbs Ferry production "impressed" the audience. Malcolm Goldstein, The Political Stage: American Drama and Theater of the Great Depression ( New York: Oxford UP, 1974) 380-81.
9.
Edith Isaacs, The Negro in the American Theatre ( New York: Theatre Arts, 1947) 96. "Hughes Play Had Premier on Broadway", Washington Tribune 5 Nov. 1935: 6.
10.
Atlantic City, Hartford, Asbury Park, Brooklyn, Bridgeport, Poughkeepsie, Philadelphia, Allentown, Worcester, Detroit, and Los Angeles were

-74-

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Langston Hughes: Folk Dramatist in the Protest Tradition, 1921-1943
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Publication/Copyright Page iv
  • Dedication Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Note xiii
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Abbreviations xvii
  • Introduction 1
  • Endnotes 12
  • Chapter 1 - Folk Comedy in Collaboration: The Mule Bone Affair 17
  • Endnotes 29
  • Chapter 2 - Radical Drama and the Black Community 33
  • Endnotes 54
  • Chapter 3 - The Tragic Mode: Mulatto 59
  • Endnotes 74
  • Chapter 4 - The Gilpin Players and the Karamu Comedies 79
  • Endnotes 97
  • Chapter 5 - The Karamu Tragedies 101
  • Endnotes 114
  • Additional Info *
  • Chapter 6 - The Harlem Suitcase Theatre 117
  • Endnotes 136
  • Chapter 7 - Community Theatre, Black Iconography, and World War II 141
  • Notes 159
  • Notes 165
  • Notes 170
  • Afterword 173
  • Bibliography 175
  • Index 181
  • About the Author *
  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Afro-American and African Studies *
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