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When and Where We Enter: Black Feminist Theatre

Leticia Ridley: Welcome to Daughters of Lorraine, a podcast from your friendly neighborhood Black feminists exploring the legacies, present, and futures of Black theatre. We are your hosts, Leticia Ridley—

Jordan Ealey: And Jordan Ealey. On this podcast produced for HowlRound Theatre Commons, a free and open platform for theatremakers worldwide, we discuss Black theatre history; conduct interviews with local and national Black theatre artists, scholars, and practitioners; and discuss plays by Black playwrights that have our minds buzzing.

Leticia: In 1973, Barbara and Beverly Smith, alongside Demita Frazier, formed the Combahee River Collective. Disillusioned with the racism of the mainstream feminist movement, the sexism of the pro-Black movement, and the liberal politics of the National Black Feminist Organization, the CRC released their now famous statement on contemporary Black feminist politics. In this statement, they assert their radical vision for liberating Black women from patriarchy, racism, homophobia, and classism, and affirm Black women’s inherent value. They joined a legacy of Black feminist intellectual history, as well as forged a new path for establishing a theoretical, political, and artistic practice of Black feminism.

Jordan: In this episode, we finally explain what we mean when we say Black feminism, especially in theatre and performance. In the episode, we engage Lisa [M.] Anderson’s tenets of Black feminist drama alongside other contemporary scholars and artists’ expansion of Black feminist theatre. We discuss Black feminist theory, Black feminist practice in creative work, and Black feminist theatre theory. And we ask, what does it mean to claim the moniker of Black feminist artist-scholar?

Hello, hello, hello. Welcome back to another episode of Daughters of Lorraine. As always, I’m Jordan Ealey.

Leticia: And I’m Leticia Ridley on the mic, ready to go, as always very excited to be physically in the building with you, Jordan.

Jordan: I know. I know it’s been so long since we’ve done an in-person episode of Daughters of Lorraine. Welcome back to the East Coast!

Leticia: I’m back on the East Coast. For those of you who may not know, I will actually be taking a postdoc fellowship at UVA in their Department of Drama. So I’ll be, for the time being, back on the East Coast, happy to be back close to my Daughters of Lorraine fellow partner and for us to see some more theatre locally.

Jordan: Absolutely, absolutely. This is a really, really special episode, as they all are, but this is really special to us because we realize that our introduction called ourselves Black feminists. We talk about perspectives on Black feminism in every episode that we have on Daughters of Lorraine. But we realize that we often haven’t talked about what we mean when we say Black feminism. So, we really just wanted to sit down and have a conversation about this social theory that has informed both of our works deeply.

Leticia: Yes, absolutely. I think what is so important about the conversation that we’re going to have today, Jordan, we’ve had this conversation, again, many times, like most topics that we address on the podcast, is that I think Black feminism might be something that people are familiar with as far as, “Oh, Black feminism. I feel like I know what that means, but I feel like...” I hopefully I can speak for you as well. We’ve talked about how oftentimes we don’t define what Black feminism is, and this insistence that we all know what it is actually feeds into a lack of clarity of how something like Black feminist theory infuses with something like theatre and performance.

Jordan: Yeah. I totally, totally agree with that. It also speaks to a larger problem of how Black women’s work gets appropriated and twisted into other spaces that people don’t realize. For example, something like intersectionality or identity politics, these terms that float around in all these different political spheres, social spheres, digital spheres are actually concepts that are deeply, deeply entrenched within Black feminist theory and politics.

Leticia: Yes. I think that’s a great jumping off point before we lean into the specificity of something like a Black feminist theatre or Black feminist theatre aesthetic. Let’s talk a bit about the origins of Black feminism, and specifically maybe even how we both came to it, to inform our listeners how we’re also entering into this conversation of Black feminist theory.

Jordan: I read in Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s book, How We Get Free, where it’s a series of interviews where she’s interviewing people like Barbara Smith and Alicia Garza, just creating a genealogy of Black feminist theory. Alicia Garza says in the book that she came to Black feminism through shitty white feminism. I love that quote because I would say that a lot of the ways that I came into Black feminist theory is through feminist theory that did not include any attention to race or Blackness.

I actually discovered Black feminism through Tumblr. For those of you all who were... Tumblr had a choke old on you in the early 2010s, I really learned a lot from Black feminists on Tumblr. Like, that page savedbythebellhooks, which I believe is now transformed into an Instagram page; or like Trudy, Black feminist intellectual and thinker who had a Tumblr page called The Gradient Layer that I followed. Not only would she talk about concepts like misogynoir, intersectionality, matrix of domination, whatever, all of those big theoretical terms, but she would also apply them to pop culture.

I remember for example, when the Electric Lady came out, Janelle Monáe’s album, and Trudy did an entire series looking at how this album speaks to different concepts within Black feminism and womanism. There was even when self-titled, Beyoncé’s album, came out, she did the exact same thing there. So there was this way that I was getting a lot of Black feminism through pop culture and being able to relate it. It was very accessible in that way, but it didn’t mean it wasn’t difficult, right? Like, I had to do a lot of work. But shout out to those Black feminists in the early 2010s, putting PDFs and videos and podcasts episodes on Tumblr and making those lists because that’s essentially where my origins of Black feminist theory came from before I actually even learned it in a classroom.

Leticia: Yeah. Actually, my formal introduction to Black feminism as a thing was in a undergrad course that I took that I literally had to petition my professor, who I am very grateful for who let me in the class, because I wasn’t supposed to take this class before. It was like Black Feminisms of the United States and Africa. I was like, “I need this class. I know I’m taking the class that I need to be in your class right now. Please let me in.” It was also my first Black professor and she was like, “Yes, you can come in the class.” I was very grateful. In that class we read a chapter from Patricia Hill Collins’s Black Feminist Thought. It was particularly the chapter on mammies, matriarchs, and welfare queens, essentially the controlling images that Patricia Hill Collins discuss that is plaguing representations of Black women.

I remember reading that and being like, “Oh, wow, this speaks so well to both my own experiences, but also the way that I see Black women interpreted and represented within popular culture spaces, but also just in everyday life.” And then I was like, “Hmm, this is it right here. This Black feminism hits. I want to dive deeper in it.” That class was also really formative for me. I think my instructor modeled Black feminist ethos in that she was also the first professor that I had, stopped me at the end of class and was, like, “Leticia, you’re always writing your notebook, scribbling everything down. It seems you have a lot to say. You should feel encouraged to say it and to share in this classroom space.”

Jordan: And now she has a podcast.

Leticia: I remember being really moved that this professor would take the time to talk to me and be like, “I see your mind working, and I want you to know that this is a space where you can work through these ideas,” and it was always paired with some sort of media or art. So I got introduced to Daughters of the Dust in that class. So we were always thinking about Black feminism, both as a social political theory, but also as it connects to art and an aesthetic practice, and that’s really where Black feminism took off for me. I ended up graduating that year and I was like, “I need more of this.” So I bought Audre Lorde. Then I just had this yearning to know more about Black feminist theory and specifically of my own interest of how that shows up in artistic spaces.

Jordan, how do you see the connection of something like theatre and Black feminism? Where does that show up for you? Who are maybe some scholars that influences your own thinking around this?

Jordan: Yeah. Thinking about Black feminism and theatre is something that when I was still trying to figure out my own consciousness around Black feminism, I was a theatre major in college and I was asking myself those same questions of, “Okay, how am I connecting my interest in racial politics, my interest in thinking about gender, and how then do I put all of those things into the work that I am interrogating within theatre spaces?” For me, that came when I took a Theatre by Women class. I went to a women’s college, so feminist politics, thinking about gender, all of that was in everything we did. But I specifically took a theatre... My very first theatre class there was Theatre by Women. In that class we read Venus by Suzan-Lori Parks. That was the first Suzan-Lori Parks play that I read.

That play just sent me on, I think, journey of thinking about how Black women are represented within theatrical spaces. So that is a very meta kind of moment for me of this is a play that is infusing Black feminist politics within it, and also it’s interrogating the ways that Black women’s bodies are rendered within this theatrical and performance spaces, which is a really cool moment.

But generally, I think that my work was most in informed by an article that I read on double patriarchy, this idea of double patriarchy and Black feminist criticism. That article is within this genealogy of thinking about intersectionality and double jeopardy, all of these different ways that Black women are structurally oppressed, but specifically within Black feminist theatre criticism. When I went to graduate school, that was really when I started to think about what does this idea of... I mean, can there be a Black feminist theatre? What is a Black feminist theatre?

That really led me to Lisa [M.] Anderson’s work and her concept of Black feminist aesthetics. She really lays it out. I wouldn’t say that this is strict criteria that all Black feminism has to follow, but I find it to be such a great guide for how Black femme playwrights are dealing with these particular issues. One of them is history, how Black women use history. The one that really sticks out to me is her concept of creating imagined histories to fill in the gaps in the histories of Black women, particularly Black lesbians, gay men, and other Black queers whose histories have been left out. I love the idea that it’s imagined because theatre and performance is all about the use of the imagined. A really hot topic right now within the academy is worldmaking and rehearsal, and no better way to think about those concepts is within theatre and performance, right? Is that we are making something that is supposed to be a rehearsal for something that we want to see, a future we want to see, a future one to make, a future we want to be a part of.

There’s also a concept by Alys Weinbaum who calls Black feminism a “philosophy of history” and also a “propaganda of history.” So Black feminists have had to write themselves into narratives, have had to write themselves into history. Anyways, I’ve rambled enough. But for me, it’s that imagination piece that really draws me into Black feminist theory and specifically how it can be used for theatre.

What about you? How does Black feminism inform your thinking about theatre and performance?

Leticia: I love that you brought up terms we often associate with something like theatre: rehearsal, imagination, practice. I think those are terms that really resonate for me and have always resonated for me within Black feminist theory. We say Black feminist theory, but it’s also a practice, an actual doing of something. So for me, that doing is so easily reflected in something like theatre and performance. So for me, Black feminism was never just social theory, but also practice. I’m not trying to say that to create some dichotomy, but as I’m thinking about, like you said, Black Feminism in Contemporary Drama by Lisa [M.] Anderson, I think it’s one of the only books that really names Black feminism as something that is informing contemporary drama.

What I love about the Black feminist aesthetics and her list that she again lays out really clearly—and I highly recommend that folks take a look at it—is that she’s very clear about what a Black feminist aesthetic can do. Like you said, it’s not interested in creating some sort of monolith of “you got to be this tall to be a Black feminist,” but really trying to get us to think about all of the topics, all of the commitments that Black feminism allows to be infused in the form that we love, which is theatre and performance. Specifically from the list that really sticks out to me, she talks about representation, but she also confronts the racist images that describe Black men as aggressive or rapist. I think with that particular one is, I think sometimes people often think of Black feminism as something that is only concerned with Black women or Black femmes, when we are clearly, both in Lisa Anderson’s and someone like Patricia Hill Collins and even Combahee River Collective, we take it back, is always actually interested in all oppressed peoples.

I will say, and I align with Patricia Hill Collins’s statement that Black women and Black femmes need to be at the center of Black feminism. I hold that’s my own politics and how I enter into the conversation. But I think there might be sometimes an intention to describe it as inclusion or that all Black women playwrights are inherently Black feminists, which is not true. Nor should that politic just be pushed onto them because there are Black women or Black femmes producing it.

We see someone like Sandra L. Richards in 1991 make this statement in the paper she delivered entitled “Women, Theatre, and Social Action” at the Breaking the Surface Conference and Festival in Calgary, that Black feminism is really important. I’m sorry. I’m quoting here. Quote: “Time that white women and men begin to participate in the project of bringing more Black women’s writing and theatre work to critical attention,” end quote. We know she is someone that’s deeply invested in this. Her career is deeply committed to doing that. But even in 1991, we have these questions that Black feminists are interested in coming to the fore in our theatre conversations, both theatre criticism and academia. We have someone Glenda Dickerson who’s also heavily committed to it. I believe it’s a speech she gives at the Association for Theatre in Higher Education called quote, “The Cult of True Womanhood: Towards a Womanist Attitude in African American Theatre.” So we have all these theatremakers talking about Black feminism as an important core of what theatre can do or of the critical attention that we should give to something like Black feminism and theatre.

Jordan: Yeah. It’s just shocking to me of how these questions remain relevant. Take both of our work, for example. I’m writing about musicals written by Black women. Up until this point, there has not been a critical study dedicated to that until my dissertation. To me, it’s deeply sad, but also it just speaks to that larger question of erasure and invisibility that happens within theatre and performance studies spaces, specifically around Black women’s work or Black feminist work—not even just Black women’s work. Black feminist work.

We’ve talked about this on another podcast that we participate in, but the idea that there’s not as much of a centralized even place to study Black feminism or be in community with other Black feminist scholars who are working within theatre and performance studies work. So what might that look to be in more community? Because one of the major tenets that Patricia Hill Collins talks about is that Black feminism isn’t created in solitude or created in silos. It’s created within community and collaboration, and what better form to explore community and collaboration than theatre and performance? To me, it speaks to the potential that the medium that we are studying has to think about Black feminism. Oftentimes within other fields, they’re not looking at it in that way. I think the uniqueness of what we do within theatre and performance work is that we’re working with bodies in space and we’re also having to do so together. We create something as a unit together, and that’s Black feminism.

Leticia: I absolutely agree with you. We’ve discussed our career goals are starting a Black feminist theatre and performance journal. We talked about what does it look like for—at least I’m not even aware of—something focused on Black feminist performance in theatre that is a theatre academic journal. I don’t know if there’s ever been a special issue where we zoom in and hone in on this particular area of study. Oh, I’m curious of why that is because we have some heavy hitters, right? It’s like a Daphne Brooks who is definitely in that legacy. If there’s a larger conversation about Black feminist scholars who work in theatre and performance studies feeling like they’re excluded from the space of theatre because of the racism, the sexism that can be really present in our field.

So, I’m always curious about that. I also want to pause here to uplift Lynette Goddard, another scholar, who is a scholar of Black feminist theatre, who is really questioning this idea of Black women’s theatre and Black feminist theatre and being clear in the distinctions of them and not the conflation of it. I want to make sure that we shout them out in their work, which is highly, highly important, and they’re also working across the pond. They’re also giving us a British perspective as well.

Jordan: Absolutely. Lynette Goddard’s work is one hundred percent foundational to both of our thinking around Black feminism and theatre. They distinguish this through a question that they ask of, “can a production said to be Black feminist when the director and/or production team or not Black women?” We’ve talked about this on the podcast just a little bit where we’re like... Specifically, we talk about in musical theatre, where we’re like, “Oh, here is a...” As someone who studies Black feminist approach to musical theatre, oftentimes people will ask me, “Oh, are you studying Dreamgirls? Are you studying The Color Purple? Are you studying Caroline, or Change?” And yes, those shows all feature Black women in main roles. I believe The Color Purple has a Black woman on their music team, but it’s little or no representation of Black women, Black AFAB person, Black femme person, Black non-cis man on their creative team. So what say you, Leticia? What say you?

Leticia: I think it’s an important question to ask. I think some folks maybe shy away from it because they’re like, “Well, if I can’t do this, then I can’t do anything.” I think that’s quite frankly missing the point. I think the point is to ask the critical questions of why aren’t Black women often put in these roles to serve on the production team or as a director that is consistent. It’s a pattern. It’s no longer like, well, there’s this one show that didn’t do that. I think it gets to the crux of why we need something like Black feminist theatre that’s invested in, like you said, Black women, Black femmes, AFAB folks, that’s really interested in thinking about the whole process, not just the story, not just the content of what’s on stage, but also all the processes behind stage. How is who’s standing literally behind the play or the musical that we see influencing what we’re seeing on stage?

I think we’ve talked about many productions that is very evident for, for colored girls…, most recently. Alicia Harris’s What to Send Up When It Goes Down. You’ve seen Cullud Wattah at the Public. These are shows that we deeply identify as Black feminist theatre, not only because of what’s on stage and the story and the characters, but also the processes and the investments of the creative team.

Jordan: That is so key, what you just said, like the processes and investments of the creative team. For example, when I saw Cullud Wattah at the Public Theater, which was fabulous. Also, this episode is coming to you within days of, if you are following theatre drama, so much drama in theatre, of what’s happened at Victory Gardens Theatre and Erika Dickerson-Despenza actually pulled her production of Cullud Wattah from that because of what they’re doing in terms of to the creative team there, so Ken-Matt Martin and the managing director, and she was saying, “I cannot have this production go on when the Black people who are at the helm of this theatre are experiencing what they’re experiencing,” and especially one that is a Black woman. That’s not even just tied to the play itself, and the play itself does explore what she...

I highly recommend you following her on Twitter in general because she’s just really amazing and smart and brilliant and creative, but also super amazing at Twitter. She posted her open letter to Victory Gardens Theatre and addressing why the production was being pulled and citing caring for the Black femme folks who are part of this production. What does that mean to not just put up this wonderful, beautiful play about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and also relationships among generations of Black women, queerness, all of these wonderful theoretical concepts, but actually putting that into practice by saying this play is about care. This play is about community. This play is about collaboration, and that is why it cannot exist in this theatre at this moment.

It takes a lot of courage and accountability. Something about Black feminism that remains so relevant is that it is also about who you’re accountable to. What communities are you accountable to? If you are a Black feminist, how does that intersect with all these other ways that you have to exist in the world? I don’t know. For her to say, “I’m pulling this production from this very well-established theatre because I want to protect...”

I think the same thing happened, if I’m not mistaken, with a production of Paradise Blue by Dominique Morisseau a couple of seasons ago, where she did the exact same thing, where she was like, “I cannot. I’m intervening here,” because there was... I do not remember the details of what happened, but I know that the Black women were not being cared for in that production. And she stepped in. To me, that’s not simply just I’m putting on a play about Black women using Black feminism to do it. It’s about I am a Black feminist because I am protecting and uplifting and caring for Black women, Black femmes, Black AFAB people through my actual practice. I just think that that’s the piece that often gets lost.

Leticia: Definitely. As you were talking, I kept thinking of theatre is the thing that shows up on the stage, but it’s so much more than that. It starts in the rehearsal room. It starts when they’re casting for shows. It starts when they’re deciding what season to put up. How can we as theatre lovers, goers, critics, scholars, theatremakers, think about what Black feminism allows us to access or ask of this thing we call theatre, especially at this racial reckoning> We had a whole episode about this racial reckoning moment is, okay, we have this moment and I truly call it a moment because I’m still looking around like, “Okay, what are we doing?” Because it seems we’re still doing some of the same stuff, is I think Black feminism allows us the gateway to actually know what an anti-racist theatre can look like.

I don’t necessarily like using that language, but I think that if we look at the four mothers of Black feminism, we have a blueprint. I’m reading the book right now, Conversations with Lorraine Hansberry, which is an anthology of a whole bunch of interviews, speeches, essays from Lorraine Hansberry. What I am so intrigued by is just Lorraine’s astute challenging of the theatre institution, of other fellow Black writers, of white establishments, very candidly not allowing the fame that she’s getting off of [A] Raisin in the Sun to detract or dim her radical politics and vision, which is deeply feminist. Lorraine Hansberry did some deep work with the Sojourners for Truth and Justice when she was working with Paul Robeson for the Freedom magazine.

So we see this as an important legacy, not only as we’re just putting Black feminism on top of theatre, but Black women and femme folks who have already been a part of the theatre, has been doing this work. Alice Childress. Glenda Dickerson. There is a host of Black women and femmes, that if we actually look at their criticism in their writing, that it’s there. The ingredients of Black feminism is there. So I say all that to say is that we name-dropped a lot of scholars, but I also want to make sure that we are reminding folks that it’s not just us scholars that are saying that things are Black feminist, but this is actually at the core of Black theatremakers who are thinking about this. If we go back to their essays, their papers, their interviews, we see this thinking, and wasn’t there an essay by Monica White Ndounou about your homegirl?

Jordan: Anna Julia Cooper. AJC. Please read that essay by Monica White Ndounou about Anna Julia Cooper actually as a theatre critic. In that essay, she talks about, interestingly enough, she talks about Porgy and Bess, which actually a lot of theatre critics do, and how she’s writing at the same time as someone WEB Du Bois. We hear all the time about WEB Du Bois. I actually think you referenced Daphne Brooks earlier. I actually think I heard her once say that Black studies is the three Ds: Du Bois. Dunbar, and, oh, I can’t remember the... Du Bois, Dunbar, and Douglass. But within that, there are so many women writing, producing, thinking at the same time. Anna Julia Cooper’s one of them. Zora Neale Hurston. We have Eulalie Spence, Marita Bonner, Georgia Douglas Johnson, the S Street Salon, I would say, is this kind of Black feminist dramaturgical space where Black women are coming together and reading each other’s works and giving feedback and developing all the these creative works in the space of a brownstone in DC.

It’s just that kind of care and critical attention given within this within a particular sphere that I think needs to continue, or needs to find its way again. I also think that there’s so many ways that Black feminism helps us expand language around gender, around sexual orientation and sexuality, around gender identity, around who and what is staking a claim within Black feminism, and who is Black feminism representing, truly?

We’ve talked, in another episode, for example, about works by Lady Dane Figueroa, who is a Black trans woman who’s writing and doing so much advocacy work around Black trans women and trans women of color being represented, being paid well in the theatre, and being cared for within the space that they’re in and leading the charge there. I think that Black feminism in the past has not been attendant in many ways to the specific social and political positions of trans women and trans feminine folks. But the politics of Black feminism allow that. We just have to be able to harness that power, to expand our thinking of what we mean when we say Black feminism and who do we mean when we say Black feminism?

Leticia: I think that’s a great point to include in this. I remember Patricia Hill Collins. I was at a panel that she was on and she mentioned something, “When I wrote Black Feminist Thought, it was not supposed to be the end of the conversation.” It was supposed to be a start on something that someone could pick up and take to new heights that she couldn’t even imagine. I think that’s what you are really asking us to do, and someone like Lady Dane is doing as well. Thinking about we definitely are praising and are indebted to Black feminism in its long legacy, but also knowing that Black feminism has not arrived. It’s a constant process. It’s a constant redoing and checking in and making sure that Black feminism and Black feminist theatre is living up to the ideals that it can.

I think that is such an important, important component to make sure that we always constantly keep in conversation. I say this to you a lot. I think sometimes with works by folks of color, and I want to also warn against this with Black feminist theatre, is that there’s this insistence to be, like, well, if it doesn’t do everything, then it doesn’t do anything. I say that to say that I think that we can hold Black feminist theatre accountable for where it might fall short, but that doesn’t mean we throw the baby out with the bathwater, that I think that we allow Black feminist theatre to have its cracks and have its space for growth, but also engage it seriously and critically for what it is actually doing in bringing to the theatre landscape—both in America, but also globally as well.

Jordan: Yeah. For me also, one last thought I had is actually going back to Erika Dickerson-Despenza when she talked about Cullud Wattah and how critics were not engaging it deeply. And that play got glowing reviews, probably almost universal critical acclaim. But her issue was not whether or not they liked it. Her issue was, okay, but where are the theoretical connections? Or where’s the history, and where’s the other context? What are you thinking deeply about when you’re looking at my work and placing it within the genealogies that I’m working within. You don’t understand that because you don’t know. That speaks to a larger, different episode, different conversation about theatre criticism. But I think specifically about... Everyone knows about Black feminism, but yet not really a lot of people really know exactly the intricacies and nuances of what they’re watching when they’re watching Black feminist work on stage.

So, I appreciate that thread for many, many reasons, but I really appreciated that when she said, like, what are you looking at? And really placing that into context. I think what you’re pointing out, Leticia, is that oftentimes Black feminist work is not... Or there can be a lack of rigor when it comes to how we engage or how Black women’s work or Black feminist work is engaged. That’s part of the issue, is these kind of lightweight critiques, whether they’re good critiques or bad critiques or somewhere in the middle. It can be lightweight: I liked it. It was powerful. I didn’t like it. I didn’t get it. No nuance, no complexity, no rigor, just vibes.

I think what you and I are hoping to create with Daughters of Lorraine, but also just specifically in this episode, is more conversation about how to engage Black feminist work with care but with rigor and critical attention. What are they doing and how are they doing it? That is the most important thing about whether or not it was so powerful or it changed your life, but how did it change your life? What were the specific things and what is the genealogy that falls in?

Leticia: Hold on to your seat because I’m about to drop a hot take! My hot take is if I could ask one thing of theatre scholars and critics, it’s to stop deducing Black feminist theatre to intersectionality.

Jordan: Please, please, please.

Leticia: That is just one component of, like you said, a complex, intricate theory and practice, and there’s Black feminisms that I also want to note. But intersectionality is not the beginning and end of Black feminist work. I often see a regurgitation of that even in our own fields. How do we move Black feminist theatre beyond just intersectionality? And there are folks in our field that do that, often Black women. Soyica Diggs Colbert is somebody that comes to mind.

Jordan: Absolutely. Jayna Brown, Daphne Brooks, Uri McMillan. Leticia Ridley.

Leticia: Jordan Ealey.

Jordan: Khalid Yaya Long. Lisa B. Thompson. Margaret Wilkerson. The list goes on. We’re not saying that it’s completely invisible and no one’s doing that work, but we are saying that it’s a small amount of people. It’s a lack of mainstream or even visibility within their work beyond, I feel like, a small sect of people who are like, “Oh, yes, of course.” I know Black feminism and can speak pretty widely about it.

Anyways, what we’re just saying is that we want more critical attention to the work of Black feminism within theatre and performance. We’re doing that work. We encourage others who, especially if you’re a Black theatre and performance scholars and artists to get more involved in that work, and we would never ever leave you all without the materials to do that because we’re just two people on our podcast mics. So we want you all to, like Leticia said, quoting Patricia Hill Collins of, “This is the beginning of the conversation. This is not the end of the conversation.” So here’s some ways for you all to continue that conversation.

Leticia: Of course, we highly recommend that you all check out all of the plays, articles, books that we reference throughout the episode. But we also have an additional list for you all. So for plays, we have The Purple Flower by Marita Bonner. We have A Song for Coretta by Pearl Cleage, Daughters of the Mock by Judi Mason, and Paradise Blue by Dominique Morisseau.

Jordan: Also in addition to reading those fantastic plays, we have a couple of books that we’d like to mention. We have Black Feminism in Contemporary Drama by Lisa M. Anderson. We cannot recommend this book enough. Also, Staging Black Feminism by Lynette Goddard. Those two books are extremely foundational to understanding theatre and performance and Black feminism. Then two articles that we’d like to mention are “A Return to 1987: Glenda Dickerson’s Black Feminist Intervention” by Khalid Long, and finally “Dancing on the Slash: Choreographing a Life as a Black Feminist Artist/Scholar” by Lisa B. Thompson. Please read these plays and articles and books. And please let us know what you think about them.

Leticia: Yes. So here we are, Jordan, at the end of another episode of Daughters of Lorraine, always a pleasure. Thank you all for listening and supporting us here at Daughters of Lorraine.

Jordan: See you next time.

Leticia: This has been another episode of Daughters of Lorraine. We’re your hosts, Leticia Ridley—

Jordan: And Jordan Ealey. On our next episode, we’re interviewing womanist playwright Pearl Cleage. You definitely will not want to miss that very, very special episode. In the meantime, if you’re looking to connect with us, please follow us on Twitter. @DOLorrainepod, P-O-D. You can also email us at [email protected] for further contact.

Leticia: The Daughters of Lorraine podcast is supported by HowlRound Theatre Commons, a free and open platform for theatremakers worldwide. It’s available on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, and howlround.com. If you are looking for the podcast on iTunes, Google Play, or Spotify, you’ll want to search and subscribe to HowlRound Podcasts.

Jordan: If you loved this podcast, post a rating and write a review on those platforms. This helps other people find us. You can also find a transcript for this episode, along with a lot of other progressive and disruptive content, on howlround.com. Have an idea for an exciting podcast, essay, or TV event the theatre community needs to hear? Visit Hoelround.com and submit your ideas to the commons.

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Hosted by two doctoral theatre students, Jordan Ealey and Leticia Ridley, Daughters' of Lorraine Podcast features reviews of Black theatre productions (mainly in the DC/Baltimore area), current national conversations around, within, and about Black theatre, academic discussions concerning Black theatre, recommendations on Black theatre scripts, and interviews with Black theatre artists. This podcast centers and privileges the narratives of Black theatremakers, scholars, and audiences while also underscoring the need for understanding the influence of Black theatre on the American theatre landscape.

Daughters of Lorraine Podcast


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