Black performance theory is a rich interdisciplinary area of study and critical method. This collection of new essays by some of its pioneering thinkers—many of whom are performers—demonstrates the breadth, depth, innovation, and critical value of black performance theory. Considering how blackness is imagined in and through performance, the contributors address topics including flight as a persistent theme in African American aesthetics, the circulation of minstrel tropes in Liverpool and in Afro-Mexican settlements in Oaxaca, and the reach of hip-hop politics as people around the world embrace the music and dance. They examine the work of contemporary choreographers Ronald K. Brown and Reggie Wilson, the ways that African American playwrights translated the theatricality of lynching to the stage, the ecstatic music of Little Richard, and Michael Jackson’s performance in the documentary This Is It. The collection includes several essays that exemplify the performative capacity of writing, as well as discussion of a project that re-creates seminal hip-hop album covers through tableaux vivants. Whether deliberating on the tragic mulatta, the trickster figure Anansi, or the sonic futurism of Nina Simone and Adrienne Kennedy, the essays in this collection signal the vast untapped critical and creative resources of black performance theory.
Contributors. Melissa Blanco Borelli, Daphne A. Brooks, Soyica Diggs Colbert, Thomas F. DeFrantz, Nadine George-Graves, Anita Gonzalez, Rickerby Hinds, Jason King, D. Soyini Madison, Koritha Mitchell, Tavia Nyong’o, Carl Paris, Anna B. Scott, Wendy S. Walters, Hershini Bhana Young