Archibald Absalon Wellington
Archibald Absalon Wellington, a black actor in the role of master of ceremonies in a play-within-a-play about the rape and murder of a white woman. He is a man who demands strict obedience to the script as he directs his troupe’s performance for five white members of the royal court, who are seated on an upper stage. Archibald’s purpose is to present his black actors in the light of the white court’s expectations. Because the white audience assumes that black people are liars and thieves, he instructs his actors to play those caricatures. He charges them to manufacture hate and to delete any word or gesture that might suggest love or humanity. At the close of the performance, he thanks his actors and congratulates them on portraying the stereotypes expected.
Dieudonné Village (deeyoo-doh-NAY vee-LAHZH), a black actor who plays the part of a rapist and murderer. He is the only male character to express love, and it is directed toward Vertu, the black whore. His desire to obey Archibald compels him to temper his love with words of despite. He leaves Vertu behind to reenact the slaughter of a white woman and seduces another actor, the black male Diouf, who is dressed as the female victim. He then rapes and strangles her. Although hunted down by the court, he assassinates them one by one. He returns to Vertu with words of love.
Mademoiselle Étiennette-Vertu-Rose-Secrète Diop
Mademoiselle Étiennette-Vertu-Rose-Secrète Diop (ay-tee-ahn-NEHT vehr-TEW rohz seh-KREHT dee-OHP), a black actress and prostitute. She is a woman of reason and balance and believes that there are bad black people as well as good ones. She is the only female character to express a love interest, which is directed toward Village. Vertu does not participate in the murder of the white girl.
Samba Graham Diouf
Samba Graham Diouf (dee-OOF), an old black actor who is the voice of order and reason. He seeks moderation and urges the blacks to be conciliatory. He...
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