From the 1920s to the present, a cadre of Black women playwrights have been making key works on themes of historical amnesia, gender, and racial exclusion. These works act as objects of resistance that relate specific cultural and socio-political concerns but are not so experimental that they are obscure or lacking coherence. They depict the real in an experimental way demonstrating a Black feminist practice. Writers bearing this legacy include African American women Adrienne Kennedy, Ntozake Shange and Black British Women such as Mojisola Adebayo, and debbie tucker green.
This practice-based research aims to develop the discourse around these Black female experimental writers by identifying the aesthetic patterns and unique customs existing in their work. Heretofore, research on Black women’s playwriting and performance has focused largely on its content, political intention and where or how various plays reside within the theatre and its economies (Anderson 2008). But little research has critically concerned itself with surveying these works for the structural criteria that provide for a Black feminist aesthetic regardless of the styles in which they are written. This research addresses this gap, proposing both a written thesis and a creative provocation to my own dramatic experimentation.
In this way I will bring to bear over twenty years of my own award-winning theatre practice to the question of how a Black feminist practice can rupture the hegemonic gaze. My intention is to interrogate my own Black Feminist voice to reach for a more radical theatre practice by seeing anew the fundamental conventions in my own work and others.
This is important because although the distinct application of Black feminist practice in theatre and performance is analyzed in the academy, this analysis remains largely untested through practice. In this manner, this area demands further study and support.