Essay Dancer In The Dark

Essay Dancer In The Dark-30
However, I’m happy if the characters come over sympathetically.In this novel, I have to say that I felt a special sadness for them all.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.

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.

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.

He is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction. Only a writer as profoundly intuitive as Phillips could bring that shrouded history to light.” –O, The Oprah Magazine A Conversation with CARYL PHILLIPSQ: How did you become interested in Bert Williams’s story?

His novel Dancing in the Dark won the 2006 PEN/Beyond Margins Award, and an earlier… I had recently finished a long essay about Marvin Gaye (published in A New World Order, 2001) in which I had explored the stereotypes that bind black performers in America.

Most people have to absorb these insults as youngsters when they are not fully equipped to deal with them.

And they are often compounded by society’s dim view of who you are.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.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.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.Harlem became culturally richer, but economically poorer.The place also began to lose some of the respectable black middle class gloss that had characterized its early days.In A Distant Shore, it would be true to say that–perhaps surprisingly–Dorothy’s plight is, in some ways, more heartbreaking than Solomon’s.Q: Early in the novel, you describe Bert and Lottie walking on 51st Street and Broadway when someone shouts “niggers” at them.

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