effectiveness as playwright of comedic works. Was comedy, as Pullen
argued, "contrary to his [ Hughes's] natural moods and works"? Hughes's
choice of the folk comedy does not necessarily imply that he abandoned
"the emotional problems of the Negro Race." Rather, it suggests his
alternate approach to reaching white audiences. Although Pullen did
not appreciate the "droll" humor, he recognized that the black members
of the audience favored "this kind of simple, lusty comedy," which, in its 1939 revival at Karamu, was considered "almost uniformly excellent."
Through humor, Hughes satirized racial inequities. He realized that
the "very act and art of laughter are, of course, serious."
75 However, his
Karamu comedies were primarily about romantic relationships. His
farcical treatment of gender relations does not suggest the same intention as his humorous treatment of race, the resolution of inequities.
Mathew H. Ahmann, ed., The New Negro ( Notre Dame, IN: Fides, 1961) 139.
Reuben Silver, A History of the Karamu Theatre of Karamu House,
1915-1960," diss., Ohio State UP, 1961, 235. Silver, perhaps the foremost
authority on Karamu Theatre, was one of the first scholars to produce a
substantive treatment of the organization.
Shraine L. Newman, Karamu House, Inc.: 75th Anniversary Souvenir
Margaret Ford-Taylor ( Cleveland: Karamu House, n.d.) 5-7.
Festus R. Fitzhugh, personal interview, 4 Aug. 1993.
John Selby, Beyond Civil Rights ( Cleveland: World Publishing, 1966) 26-27, 61-62.
Edith Isaacs, The Negro in the American Theatre ( New York: Theatre
Arts, 1947) 96.
Terrence Tobin, "Karamu Theatre: Its Distinguished Past and Present
Achievement", Drama Critique 7 (Spring 1964): 89.
Cora Geiger Newald, Karamu: 48 Years of Integration through the
Arts," n.d., ms., Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, 19-20, app.
Newald19-21. Cit. through p. 23 refer to app., "Plays Produced."
Newman8; Selby60; Newald174.
Newald19-20; Silver493 (shows different count for first season).
Festus Fitzhugh provided the following list of Gilpin Players: Louise
Apple, Dave Beasely, Hazel Bryant, Sherman Brown, Elmer Cheeks, William
Cooper, William Day, Lawrence Dooley, Dwight Gordon, Olive Hale, Leslie
Ingram, Charles Jackson, Bill Johnson, Lila Jones, Percy Marshall, Dr. McMorris, Roland Mulhauser (white), George Nunn, Dorothy Smith, Helen
Smith, Rayner Smith, Jack Stewart, Curtis Tann, Frances Williams, Joe Zenz