Essay Dancer In The Dark

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How much of the story is drawn from your imagination? The very short extracts from the plays and some of the newspaper reports are totally factual–but they exist just to give a kind of tantalizing factual flavor to the novel.

However, who these characters are, and how they thought, act, felt, suffered, loved and lost, all of this had to be felt and imagined.

I think Bert Williams would have been disappointed by this Harlem. There is no plaque or marker or anything to suggest that this is where the great man lived.

Today, Harlem is being gentrified, and after one hundred years black people are being “bought out.” Columbia University has just announced plans to build its West Harlem campus, and in other parts of the neighborhood, house prices are rocketing. Q: I wanted to cry in sympathy for Bert’s wife, Lottie, and not just in sorrow for her ruined hair.

In this searing novel, Caryl Phillips reimagines the life of the first black entertainer in the U. In this searing novel, Caryl Phillips reimagines the life of the first black entertainer in the U. More about Caryl Phillips Caryl Phillips was born in St. He is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction. Phillips writes powerfully.” –The Washington Post Book World“An exquisitely moving novel. I was immediately fascinated by the notion of a black performer who blacks up to go on stage.

Essay Dancer In The Dark

After years of struggling for success on the stage, Bert Williams (1874—1922), the child of recent immigrants from the Bahamas, made the radical decision to don blackface makeup and play the “coon.” Behind this mask he became a Broadway headliner–as influential a comedian as Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, and W. Fields, who called him “the funniest man I ever saw, and the saddest man I ever knew.” It is this dichotomy at Williams’ core that Phillips explores in this richly nuanced, brilliantly written novel, unblinking in its attention to the sinister compromises that make up an identity. After years of struggling for success on the stage, Bert Williams (1874—1922), the child of recent immigrants from the Bahamas, made the radical decision to don blackface makeup and play the “coon.” Behind this mask he became a Broadway headliner–as influential a comedian as Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, and W. Fields, who called him “the funniest man I ever saw, and the saddest man I ever knew.” It is this dichotomy at Williams’ core that Phillips explores in this richly nuanced, brilliantly written novel, unblinking in its attention to the sinister compromises that make up an identity. His novel Dancing in the Dark won the 2006 PEN/Beyond Margins Award, and an earlier… A: About ten years ago I came across a reference to Bert Williams in a book I was reading.It’s an old process, but at least there has been approximately a full century of black “stability” in Harlem. Her disappointment and sadness are tangible every time she goes to bed with her husband.I felt similarly for Dorothy in your last novel, A Distant Shore.Then, a few years ago, I realized that I would have to write about him, for he would not let go of me.This also coincided with a growing interest I had in how hip-hop performers in particular were presenting themselves (and being presented) to the wider American audience.There seemed to be an aspect of performative minstrelsy to some of their work.This all made me think increasingly about Bert Williams.This word becomes a “missile” that ricochets back and forth across the street–a superb image.When thinking about verbal racism do you disagree with the old saying: “sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt you”?A: Actually, I don’t think it’s true that verbal insults don’t damage.I think they can wreak an incredible amount of havoc on one’s sense of oneself.

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