Theatre Arts 240/English 376 (Benjamin Franklin Seminar)


Blackface, Yellowface, Redface, Jewface:

Theatrical Representations of “Others.”

Professor Mazer

Spring 2008


519 Annenberg Center, 3-2659;

Office Hours:  Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:30-3:00; and by appointment


January 15:  Introduction


January 20:  Classical Othering:

Euripides, Medea.


January 22:  Early Modern Othering:

Christopher Marlowe, The Jew of Malta (downloadable as html text on Blackboard).


January 27:  Ben Jonson, The Masque of Queens (bulkpack); Kim F. Hall, “Sexual Politics and Cultural Identity in The Masque of Blackness” (bulkpack).


January 29:  Old World/New World:

Thomas Southerne, Oroonoko (Blackboard); Joseph R. Roach, “Introduction:  History, Memory, and Performance,” from Cities of the Dead:  Circum-Atlantic Performance (bulkpack).


February 3:  Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Pizarro (Blackboard).


February 5:  Race, America, Romanticism, and Melodrama:

John Augustus Stone, Metamora, or the Last of the Wampanoags (bulkpack); Jeffrey D. Mason, “Metamora and the ‘Indian’ Question,” in Melodrama and the Myth of America (bulkpack).


February 10:  The African Company and Ira Aldridge:

Errol Hill, “Shakespeare and the Black Actor” (partial), and “Involuntary Exiles” (partial), from Shakespeare in Sable:  A History of Black Shakespearean Actors; Charles Matthews, multiple versions of A Trip to America, (Blackboard).


February 12:  George Aiken, Uncle Tom's Cabin (in Jeffrey Richards, Early American Drama); Jeffrey D. Mason, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Politics of Race,” in Melodrama and the Myth of America (bulkpack).


February 17:  Dion Boucicault, The Octoroon (in Richards); Joseph R. Roach, “Slave Spectacles and Tragic Octoroons:  A Cultural Genealogy of Antebellum Performance” (bulkpack); Harley Erdman, “Caught in the ‘Eye of the Eternal’:  Justice, Race, and the Camera, from The Octoroon to Rodney King,” Theatre Journal 45 (1993) 333-48 (Blackboard).


February 19:  Mintrelsy:

Eric Lott, “Blackface and Blackness:  The Minstrel Show in American Culture,” in Annemarie Bean, James.V. Hatch, and Brooks McNamara, eds., Inside the Minstrel Mask:  Readings in Nineteenth-Century Blackface Minstrelsy (bulkpack); “Love and Theft:  The Racial Unconscious of Blackface Minstrelsy,” Representations 39 (Summer, 1992), pp. 23-50 (Blackboard).


February 24:  Minstrelsy (continued):

Minstrel sketches:  “Oh, Hush! or, The Virginny Cupids,” “Desdemonum,” “Othello,” and “Shylock” (bulkpack).


[REQUIRED THEATREGOING:  Beth Henley, Crimes of the Heart, directed by Rose Malague; Theatre Arts Program, Bruce Montgomery Theatre, Annenberg Center, February 25-28, 2009.]


February 26:  Wild West Shows:

Bobby Bridger, “The Wild West,” from Buffalo Bill and Sitting Bull:  Inventing the Wild West (bulkpack); John G. Blair, “Blackface Minstrels and Buffalo Bill's Wild West: Nineteenth-Century Entertainment Forms as Cultural Exports,” in John Dean and Jean-Paul Gabilliet, eds., European Readings of American Popular Culture (bulkpack); Rosemary K. Bank, “Representing History:  Performing the Columbian Exposition,” Theatre Journal 54 (2002) 589-606 (Blackboard).


March 3:  Jewface:

Harley Erdman, “Making the Jewish Villain Visible:  American Approaches to Shylocks and Sheenies,” and “Taming the Exotic Jewess:  The Rise and Fall of the ‘Belle Juive,’” from Staging the Jew:  The Performance of an American Ethnicity 1860-1920 (bulkpack).


March 5:  Black Blackface:

Camille F. Forbes, “Dancing with ‘Racial Feet’:  Bert Williams and the Performance of Blackness,” Theatre Journal 56 (2004) 603-25 (Blackboard); Louis, Chude-Sokei, “Black Minstrel, Black Modernism,” and “Migrations of a Mask,” in The Last “Darky”:  Bert Williams, Black-on-Black Minstrelsy, and the African Diaspora (bulkpack).


March 7:  Race and Theatrical Modernism:

Eugene O’Neill, The Emperor Jones; film version (1933) in Rosengarten.


[Spring Break]


March 17:  Race, History, and Show Business:

Listen to EMI recording of  Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein, Showboat, in Ormany Listening Room; film version (1936, dir. James Whale) in Rosengarten.


March 19:  Broadway orientalism:

Bruce McConachie, “The ‘Oriental’ Musicals of Rogers and Hammerstein and the U.S. War in Southeast Asia,” Theatre Journal 46 (1994) 385-398 (Blackboard); film version of Flower Drum Song (1961), in Rosengarten.


March 24:  Non-Traditional Casting:

Angela Pao, “Recasting Race: Casting Practices and Racial Formations” (bulkpack); Alex Wichel, “Union Weighs ‘Miss Saigon’ Casting, New York Times, July 25,1990  (; link Blackboard); Eva Resnikova, “Eastern Standard—Controversy over Casting of Broadway Production of ‘Miss Saigon,’” National Review, September 17 1990 (; link on Blackboard).


March 26:  Crimes of the Heart revisited:  discussion of Theatre Arts Program production.


March 31:  The Wilson/Brustein Debates:

August Wilson, “The Ground On Which I Stand,” American Theatre,  September, 1996 (bulkpack); Robert Brustein, “Subsidized Separatism,” American Theatre, October, 1996.   Stephen Nunns, “Wilson, Brustein, and The Press,” American Theatre,  March, 1997 (bulkpack); “Beyond the Wilson-Brustein Debates,” Theatre 27:2-3 (1997), pp. 5-41 (bulkpack)


April 2:  Performing Identities:

Anna Deavere Smith, Twilight:  Los Angeles; film version in Rosengarten; “Anna Deavere Smith:  the Word Becomes You,” an interview by Carol Martin (bulkpack); Debby Thompson, “‘Is Race a Trope?’:  Anna Deavere Smith and the Question of Racial Performativity,” African American Review 37 (2003) 127-38 (Blackboard).


April 7:  Postmodern Blackface:  The Wooster Group:

Aoife Monks, “Genuine Negroes and Real Bloodhounds”:  Cross-Dressing, Eugene O'Neill, the Wooster Group, and The Emperor Jones," Modern Drama, Volume 48, Number 3, Fall 2005, pp. 540-564 (Blackboard); David Salle and Sarah French, “Kate Valk,” BOMB Magazine, Issue 100, Summer 2007 (at; link on Blackboard).


[April 19:  TBA]


April 14:  Redressing Yellowface:

David Henry Hwang, Yellow Face (bulkpack) and Flower Drum Song.


April 21:  “Colorblind” Shakespeare:

Ayanna Thompson, “Practicing a Theory/Theorizing a Practice:  An Introduction to Shakespearean Colorblind Casting,” and Peter Erickson, “Afterword:  the Blind Site of  Colorblind Casting,” in Ayanna Thompson, ed., Colorblind Shakespeare:  New Perspectives on Race and Performance.


April 23:  Individual reports on “non-traditional,” “colorblind,” multi-ethnic, and/or racially coded Shakespeare productions, e.g. Robert Lepage, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, National Theatre; Declan Donnellan, As You Like It, Cheek by Jowl; Jude Kelly, Othello, Shakespeare Theatre (Washington DC); Tim Supple, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Royal Shakespeare Company; Gregory Doran, Titus Andronicus, Market Theatre (Johannesburg); Janet Suzman, Othello, Market Theatre.


April 28:  Catch-up and conclusions.


There will be TWO take-home essay assignments, ONE in-class presentation (on April 23), plus ONE final research project, due at a date to be announced, on a topic that must MUST BE APPROVED IN ADVANCE.  Attendance in class is crucial; CHRONIC ABSENCE OR LATENESS WILL BE COUNTED AGAINST YOU.


The following books can be purchased at the Penn Book Center, 34th and Sansom Sts.:

Euripides I

Jeffrey Richards, Early American Drama

Eugene O’Neill, Four Plays

Anna Deavere Smith, Twilight:  Los Angeles

David Henry Hwang, Flower Drum Song


The bulkpack can be purchased at the Campus Copy Center, 39th and Walnut.


The listserv for this course is  The Blackboad site is at  The syllabus for this course is available in electronic form at