African American Drama Analysis

Historical Development

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Ed Bullins , a major figure in both contemporary and African American drama, describes this historical development and contemporary direction in a statement that has exerted a substantial impact on the subsequent development of the tradition:With the present Black Writers turned away from addressing an anticipated white readership and appealing the plight of Blackness in America to their masochistic delight, the literature has changed from a social-protest oriented form to one of a dialectical nature among Black people—Black dialectics—and this new thrust has two main branches—the dialectic of change and the dialectic of experience. The writers are attempting to answer questions concerning Black survival and future, one group through confronting the Black/white reality of America, the other, by heightening the dreadful white reality of being a modern Black captive and victim. These two major branches in the mainstream of the new Black creativity, the dialectic of change (once called protest writing, surely, when confronting whites directly and angrily, then altered to what was called Black revolutionary writing when it shifted . . . away from a white audience to a Black) and the dialectic of experience (or being), sometimes merge, but variety and power in the overall work are the general rule.

As Bullins suggests, early African American dramatists and performers did in fact anticipate a white audience or, in the rare case where the...

(The entire section is 527 words.)