Author

Brendan Whitt

Date of Award

2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English

Department

College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Michael Geither

Subject Headings

African Americans, History, Music, Theater

Abstract

A-Minor is an one-act play that examines the relationship between a Black artist and the predominantly white society and industry he must assimilate into in order to be considered a success. The main character Jacque Bonnet is used as a vessel to interpret the life and career of Joseph Bologne Chevalier de St. George. Despite Bonnet and Bologne being from different eras (Bologne mid to late 1700’s, Bonnet Mid 1800’s) I used Bonnet as a device to investigate the lesser explored life of Bologne. By creating a meta-gothic world for Jacque Bonnet to exist in, the crowd can watch his mental decay in real time. This play relies heavily on pace and aesthetic. A minimalist set with several props and original music will assist in the telling of the story. This play is heavily influenced by Suzan Lori-Parks’ Topdog/Underdog and Picasso’s Harlequin with a Violin and has to be told through a gothic lens with Victorian tendencies. These are the fears of the Black artist learning to assimilate. This is a problem that spreads beyond the history of America. There have long been Complaints of the field of medieval studies being too white and failing to pay attention to the African Diaspora that populated much of Europe between the year 500 and 1500. Joseph Bologne has been long forgotten in the annals of European history. The romanticized version of a continent that is rarely challenged. …A-Monor serves as a revisioning of one, Joseph Bologne’s life using a fictional character. The white world that surrounds Jacque represents the smothering of a black artist in a white dominated market. In the end this play serves as a loose interpretation of how history, specifically of the African Diaspora can be consumed and forgotten about by a mass white elite. The aristocracy controls Jacque’s work just as much as the majority white corporate hands control today’s art and entertainment market. Keeping to the tradition of the downtrodden black artist, the historical setting of mid 1800’s France offers a historical point of reference for the story. What happens today has already happened yesterday.

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