Incendiary Dramas: Black Theatre Classics and Afrofuturism

Author: Isiah Lavender III (University of Georgia)

  • Incendiary Dramas: Black Theatre Classics and Afrofuturism


    Incendiary Dramas: Black Theatre Classics and Afrofuturism



How do Afrofuturism and Black Theatre fit together? A provocative question worthy of deep thought! Loosely construed, Afrofuturism provides a critical descriptive lens to explore Black culture that questions the commingling of race, science, and technology, with a dash of the supernatural thrown into the mix from a largely African American context which impacts how we perceive literature, music, and film. From a theatrical standpoint, live performance provides a place to see Afrofuturism at work. The live performance element, the bringing of an imagined reality to real-life, in a sense, with real people, playing the parts in front of other real people, generates amazing stories of Black experience. The dynamism of Black Theatre certainly lends itself to Afrofuturist speculation and critical thought. Theatre amplifies the stuff of life--joy, sadness, oppression, violence, laughter, love, emotions that cannot otherwise be described. The beauty is in the sparked thoughts firing in resistance to being made to feel lesser.

Replete with Afrofuturism, Black Theatre provokes many future visions. Douglas Turner Ward's Day of Absence: A Satirical Fantasy (1965), Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun (1959), Amiri Baraka's Dutchman (1964), August Wilson's The Janitor (1985), and Lynn Nottage's Poof! (1993) represent five such disparate visions ranging from a sudden mass disappearance to changing neighborhoods, to a subway ride, to a speech, to spousal abuse. Each play represents the creative force of Afrofuturism and the desire to make better futures by exploring possibilities. Afrofuturism offers both emancipatory visions and cultural alarums--lightness and dark.

Keywords: Afrofuturism, Alien encounter, spontaneous combustion, integration, post-race, planetary romance, emancipatory mindscapes

How to Cite: Lavender III, Isiah. "Incendiary Dramas: Black Theatre Classics and Afrofuturism." the Black Theatre Review 2 no.1 (2023): 12-22.

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Published on
19 Jul 2023
Peer Reviewed