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In Dahomey (1902)

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In Dahomey (1902) Paul Lawrence Dunbar (lyrics) Jesse A. Shipp (book) Will Marion Cook (music) Part I of II * * 1) And th Many pre-modern Christian sources discuss ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: In Dahomey (1902)


1
In Dahomey (1902)
  • Paul Lawrence Dunbar (lyrics)
  • Jesse A. Shipp (book)
  • Will Marion Cook (music)
  • Part I of II

2
The History of the Minstrel Show
  • 1769- Lewis Hallman performs is blackface in the
    play The Padlock
  • 1769-1843- Performers of so-called Negro
    Music increasingly use blackface in their
    performances and are dubbed minstrels
  • 1843- The Virginia Minstrels perform at the New
    York Bowery Ampitheatre
  • 1843- E.P. Christy founds the Christy Minstrels,
    who establish the template for minstrel show for
    the next three decades
  • 1843-1865- The rise of minstrelsy coincides with
    the growing abolitionist movement in the U.S.,
    and is often used as propaganda to promote the
    image of the contented slave
  • 1860s- Blackface begins to serve as a sort of
    fools mask, allowing the performers to lampoon
    virtually anything without offending the
    audience.
  • 1860s- The minstrel show increasingly becomes
    associated with social criticism during the Civil
    War, advocating for abolition, womens rights,
    and temperance. Black performers begin to use
    blackface
  • 1890s- Vaudeville gradually replaces minstrelsy
    as Americas favorite genre of theatrical comedy

3
The Structure of the Minstrel Show
PART 1- The entire troupe danced onto stage
singing a popular song. Upon the instruction of
the interlocutor, a sort of host, they sat in a
semicircle. Various stock characters always took
the same positions the genteel interlocutor in
the middle, flanked by Tambo and Bones, who
served as the endmen or cornermen. The
interlocutor acted as a master of ceremonies and
as a dignified, if pompous, straight man while
the endmen exchanged jokes and performed a
variety of humorous songs. Over time, the first
act came to include maudlin numbers not always in
dialect. One minstrel, usually a tenor, came to
specialize in this part such singers often
became celebrities, especially with women.
Initially, an upbeat plantation song and dance
ended the act later it was more common for the
first act to end with a walkaround, including
dances in the style of a cakewalk PART 2- The
olio- had of a variety show structure.
Performers danced, played instruments, did
acrobatics, and demonstrated other amusing
talents. Troupes offered parodies of
European-style entertainments, and European
troupes themselves sometimes performed. PART
3/FINALE- Uusually one actor, typically one of
the endmen , delivered a faux-black-dialect stump
speech, a long oration about anything from
nonsense to science, society, or politics, during
which the dim-witted character tried to speak
eloquently, only to deliver countless
malapropisms, jokes, and unintentional puns. All
the while, the speaker moved about like a clown,
standing on his head and almost always falling
off his stump at some point. With blackface
makeup serving as fools mask, these stump
speakers could deliver biting social criticism
without offending the audience, although the
focus was usually on sending up unpopular issues
and making fun of blacks' ability to make sense
of them.
4
Stump Speech
5
Endmen Comedy Routine
6
Endmen Dancing
7
Cakewalk
8
Musical Number
9
In Dahomey?
  • The origins of Dahomey (present day Benin) can be
    traced back to a group of Aja from the coastal
    kingdom of Allada who moved northward and settled
    among the Fon People of the interior. By about
    1650, the Aja managed to dominate the Fon, and
    Wegbaja declared himself king of their joint
    territory. Based in his capital of Agbome,
    Wegbaja and his successors succeeded in
    establishing a highly centralized state with a
    deep-rooted kingship cult of sacrificial
    offerings. These included an emphasis on human
    sacrifices in large numbers, to the ancestors of
    the monarch
  • Economically, however, Wegbaja and his successors
    profited mainly from the slave trade and
    relations with slavers along the coast. As
    Dahomey's kings embarked on wars to expand their
    territory, they began using rifles and other
    firearms traded with French and Spanish slave
    traders for young men captured in battle, who
    fetched a very high price from the European slave
    merchants.
  • Talking Points
  • Given its history, describe the multiple ironies
    at work (and their significances) in making
    Dahomey the Societys chosen point of return? To
    what types of ignorance and affiliation does it
    point? How does it help us make sense of the
    fate the eventually befalls the colonizers?

10
Hybridity and In Dahomey Reworking
Theatrical Conventions by Manipulating
Theatrical Contracts
  • Minstrelsy
  • Vaudeville
  • Popular Art
  • Folklore
  • Musical Comedy/ Light Opera
  • African-American Christianity
  • Farce designed to Lampoon Repatriation as a
    solution to the Race Problem

11
Key Themes, Theatrical Devices, and Symbols
  • Minstrelsy/Black Face
  • Atavistic Primitivism
  • Cultural Production as Cultural Fabric
  • Early Pan-Africanism The Agendas of Origin
  • Black Nationalism and Internationalism
  • Racial Hybridity and Difference
  • The (in)compatability of European Forms and
    African-American Expression
  • Using Theatre to Redress Issues and Concerns
    that, in part, are the creation of the theatre of
    times past (turning to minstrelsy to help solve
    the race problem)
  • Meta-theatricality
  • The idea that the origin of African-American
    identity lies in the cultural production of the
    Southern plantation
  • Afro-Christianity

12
Moses and Carrie Brown The Absence of African
American Theatre and the Indispensable Cultural
Fabric of African American Culture A Problem
with No Home-Grown Solution?
  • MOSES (loudly) Mad about the stage was Carrie
    Brown, She served at a draper's shop in town
    Each new piece they play'd, There you'd find this
    maid First night in the gall'ry sitting down.
    Carrie could recite, "The Soldier's Dream" All
    the shopgirls held her in esteem, For in the
    dining hall She would entertain them all, And,
    when applauded, she would almost scream
  • CHORUS  I wants to be a actor lady Playing, you
    know, Star in the show Spotlight for me no back
    row shady I'm the real thing I dance and sing
    Miss Terry may make Shakespeare go, But she can't
    sing, "Flo from Pimlico," And I wants to be a
    actor lady too -- indeed I do! Carrie said that
    Shakespeare was an ass, Barrie wasn't bad, but
    still no class "If George Sims," said she,
    "Wrote a play for me, You to see me act could get
    no pass." "Over my dead body first, you cur!
    Death to life with you, I much prefer!"
    "Farewell, Claude, we must part! You have broke
    my trusting heart!" With lines like them I'd make
    all London stir.
  • CHORUS  I wants to be a actor lady Playing you
    know, Star in the show Spotlight for me, no back
    row shady, I'm the real thing, I dance and sing
    Miss Mary Moore is splendid truly, But she can't
    warble "Mister Dooley" I wants to be a actor
    lady too -- indeed I do! Carrie wrote to Mister
    Beerbohm Tree "Though to you I may a stranger
    be, When your season starts, Of the ladies' parts
    Give the most important one to me Olga
    Nethersole is very fine, But her acting can't
    compare with mine I'm just about her height
    Herbert, don't forget to write, And say a five
    years' contract I may sign!"
  • Talking Points
  • 1) Describe the paradox faced
  • by Carrie Brown? What does she
  • want? Why cant she have it?
  • What is her proposed remedy?
  • 2) How does the Chorus frame matters with respect
    to
  • the relationship between African-American
    performance
  • and African American aesthetic production? In
    other words,
  • how would you characterize the symbolic
    importance of Carries
  • Boast the Terry may make Shakespeare go. But
    she cant s
  • Sing, Flo from Pimlico
  • 3) What is the intertextual significance wrought
    by the fact that
  • Moses leading this chorus?

13
Williams and Walker A More Sophisticated Black
Theatre?
  • George Walker and Egbert Austin Williams were a
    vaudeville comedy team and had one of the most
    renowned and successful stage partnerships in
    American theatrical history. They decided to team
    up when they met in San Francisco in the early
    1890's. Williams and Walker pioneered a new kind
    of "Black" humor and eventually developed their
    own company. With musical shows such as
    "Clorindy, the Origin of the Cakewalk," "Sons of
    Ham," and "In Dahomey," they opened the door for
    other African-American actors, singers, dancers,
    and musicians, and sought to redefine the
    boundaries of Black Theater.

14
Inset Williams and Walker Clip
15
Paul Lawrence Dunbar (1872-1906)
  • The first African-American poet to garner
    national critical acclaim.
  • Dunbar penned a large body of dialect poems,
    standard English poems, essays, novels and short
    stories before he died at the age of 33.
  • His work often addressed the difficulties
    encountered by members of his race and the
    efforts of African-Americans to achieve equality
    in America. He was praised both by the prominent
    literary critics of his time and his literary
    contemporaries.
  • 4) Dunbar decided to publish a book of poems.
    Oak and Ivy, his first collection, was published
    in 1892.
  • 5) In 1893, he was invited to recite at the
    World's Fair, where he met Frederick Douglass,
    the renowned abolitionist who rose from slavery
    to political and literary prominence in America.
    Douglass called Dunbar "the most promising young
    colored man in America."
  • Dunbar's second book, Majors and Minors propelled
    him to national fame.
  • In 1897, Dunbar traveled to England to recite his
    works on the London literary circuit.
  • In 1902, Dunbar and his wife separated.
  • He ultimately produced 12 books of poetry, four
    books of short stories, a play and five novels.
    His work appeared in Harper's Weekly, the Sunday
    Evening Post, the Denver Post, Current Literature
    and a number of other magazines and journals.
  • ) Dunbars burden of representativity is
    well-documented to have, at times, nearly drove
    him mad.

16
Will Marion Cook (1869-1944)
  • 1) The first great African-American composer for
    the musical stage.
  • 2) Trained at the Oberlin Conservatory, the
    National Conservatory of Music in New York under
    Anton Dvorak and in Berlin, Germany at Hochschule
    fur Musik.
  • 3) IN 1890, he begins to compose that drew on the
    idioms and themes of African-American folklore
    and music.
  • 4) Throughout the 1890s and 1900s, he composed
    for the stage shows of Bert Williams, the leading
    black comic and vaudevillian. I
  • 5) In 1889 Cook produced and wrote the music for
    Clorindy, the Origin of the Cakewalk. This debut
    in the theater world was a series of skits. The
    skits were written in an hour-long session
    between Cook and the celebrated African American
    dialect poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar. It was the
    first musical comedy written, directed, and
    performed entirely by African-American artists.
    The show opened at the Casino Theater Roof Garden
    in New York to rave reviews and enjoyed success
    on Broadway and in London. The beauty of the lead
    dancer Ada Overton Walker prompted the cakewalk
    dance craze among even the high-society of New
    York.
  • 6) Named Composer-in-Chief and Musical Director
    for William Walker's Broadway shows. He went on
    to compose the music for a number of popular
    black musicals, including In Dahomey (1903)
  • 7) Cook composed Abyssinia in 1906, but his
    reliance on ragtime left him behind the changing
    tastes. He led his Southern Syncopated Orchestra,
    a huge ragtime and concert ensemble, and composed
    "I'm Coming, Virginia" and "Mammy" in the 1910s.
  • 8) His last European tour by his orchestra was in
    1919. It was then that critics noted that he had
    developed an emerging jazz style

17
Jesse Shipp Writer, Director, Lyricist
  • ON BROADWAY
  • Productions Dates of Production
  • Kilpatrick's Old-Time Minstrels  Original,
    Musical, Minstrel
  • Staged by Jesse A. Shipp
  • Apr 19, 1930 - Apr 26, 1930
  • The Green Pastures  Original, Play, Play with
    music
  • Performer Jesse A. Shipp Abraham Performer
    Jesse A. Shipp Archangel
  • Feb 26, 1930 - Aug 29, 1931
  • Mr. Lode of Koal  Original, Musical
  • Book by Jesse A. Shipp Lyrics by Jesse A. Shipp
  • Nov 1, 1909 - Dec 4, 1909
  • Bandanna Land  Original, Musical, Comedy
  • Starring Jesse A. Shipp Mose Blackstone
    Staged by Jesse A. Shipp Book by Jesse A.
    Shipp Lyrics by Jesse A. Shipp
  • Feb 3, 1908 - Apr 18, 1908
  • Abyssinia  Original, Musical, Comedy
  • Performer Jesse A. Shipp The Affa Negus
    Tegulet Staged by Jesse A. Shipp Dahomey
     Original, Musical, Farce
  • Performer Jesse A. Shipp Hustling Charley
    Book by Jesse A. Shipp
  • Feb 18, 1903 - Apr 4, 1903
  • Sons of Ham  Revival, Musical, Comedy

18
The Theatrical Dilemmas of Representing the Race
Problem for a New Black Theatre Part I, II,
IIIGO!
  • The problem of origin, the absence of precedent,
    and the drive (and/or refusal) to infuse a
    hostile theatrical environment with elements of
    Black folk/popular Culture.
  • 2) How does one infuse authentic
    African-American culture into a cultural milieu
    where both African-Americans and Africa have
    already been invented in different terms to
    suit different aims?
  • 3) The problem of reworking contaminated genres
    and meta-narratives to suit new aims while, at
    the same time, fore-fronting the dangers of this
    contamination. (Or How does one show both
    sides of the story without ignoring
    cross-pollination.)

19
Hybridity and In Dahomey Reworking
Theatrical Conventions by Manipulating
Theatrical Contracts
  • Minstrelsy
  • Vaudeville
  • Popular Art
  • Folklore
  • Musical Comedy/ Light Opera
  • African-American Christianity
  • Farce designed to Lampoon Repatriation as a
    solution to the Race Problem

20
Minstrelsy, Tricksterism, and the Race
Problem The Race Problem and the Problem of
Representing Race
  • Act 1
  • (Public Square with a house doorway. Above the
    door is a sign "Intelligence Office." A crowd is
    assembled around a medicine show pitchman.
    Applause at rise of curtain. A banjo player acts
    as an interlocutor as Tambo, and Bones tell one
    or two jokes. The banjoist sings a song. Dr.
    Straight, the pitchman, addresses the crowd.)
  • ...
  • DR. STRAIGHT  Wait, wait, wait, this is not all.
    I have another preparation, Oblicuticus, "Obli"
    -- in this case, being an abbreviation of the
    word "obliterate." "Cuti" -- taken from the word
    "cuticle," the outer skin, and "cuss" is what
    everybody does when the desired results are not
    obtained, but there is no such word as "fail."
    This wonderful face bleach removes the outer skin
    and leaves in its place a peachlike complexion
    that can't be duplicated -- even by peaches.
    Changing black to white and vice versa. I am
    going to spend only one day in your city, but I
    am going to convince you by exhibiting a living
    evidence of my assertions that these two grand
    preparations Straightaline and Oblicuticus are
    the most wonderful discovery of modern times.
  • Talking Points
  • What are the implications refashioning (and in a
    sense, returning to his roots) the figure of the
    interlocutor as the M.C. at a medicine show?
  • What is Dr. Straights cure for the race problem?
    How do the very names of his potions speak to
    the nature of his solution to the race problem?
  • Consider the implications and ironies of the use
    of Blackface in this scene. (Black Actors in
    Blackface calling for the obliteration of all
    things black). What purposes do they serve?

21
American Colonization Society Emigration,
Repatriation, or Colonization?
  • In 1822, the American Colonization Society
    (A.C.S.) which was the primary vehicle for
    returning black Americans to greater freedom in
    Africa, established Liberia as a place to send
    people who were formerly enslaved. This movement
    of black people by the A.C.S. had broad support
    nationwide among white people in America,
    including prominent leaders such as Henry Clay
    and James Monroe, who saw this as preferable to
    emancipation in America, with Clay believing
    "unconquerable prejudice resulting from their
    color, they never could amalgamate with the free
    whites of this country".
  • Talking Points
  • 1) What is beyond the
  • comprehension of Stampfield?.
  • How do his lack of
  • understanding (or concerns)
  • speak to the plays political
  • concerns and treatments?
  • 2) What are the ironies and
  • metaphorical import of Moses
  • remark about Indians and
  • reservations? How
  • does it complicate his earlier
  • Rejection of the U.S.? How
  • Does it distance him from the
  • Natives and what is the impact
  • Of this distancing?
  • 3) What seems to be the
  • chief motivation behind the
  • societys efforts? How is this

STAMPFIELD  You shouldn't let trifles annoy you.
I'll dare say you'll find the population of
Dahomey quite as much a source of annoyance as
the colored population of this country. Your
exalted opinion of the ideal life to be found in
a barbarous country is beyond my comprehension.
MOSES  It's all right for you, son, to argue
that way, 'cause you 'specs to live and die
amongst these white folks here in the United
States, but the colonization society that leaves
this country for Dahomey takes a different view
of the matter. In the first place, we've
'vestigated the country and found out just what's
what. STAMPFIELD  In other words, the existing
conditions. MOSES  (doubtfully) Yes. Everything
points to success. They tell me that gold and
silver in Dahomey is plentiful, as the whiskey is
on election day in Bosting Boston. The
climate's fine -- just the right thing for
raisin' chickens and watermelons. It never snows
so you don't need no clothes (pauses) sich as the
people wear here, and who know but what you can
get a few franchises from the king to start
street cars, 'lectric lights and saloons to
running. STAMPFIELD  You've fine, big ideas, but
suppose the natives suddenly don't take kindly to
the new order of things and refuse to be electric
lighted, salooned and otherwise fixed up with
blessings of civilization. Suppose they look upon
you as intruders and instead of receiving you
with open arms (pause) make war on you. MOSES 
(slowly) If it comes to that, we'll arrange with
dem gentlemen like Uncle Sam did with the
Indians. STAMPFIELD  How is that? MOSES  Kick
the stuffin' out of dem and put them on a
reservation.
22
Reverse Passage?
  • HUSTLING CHARLEY Well, there's a society down in
    Florida that's been pilin' up coin for years. Now
    that they're flush, they're goin' to go blow.
    They ain't satisfied to see their noodles ain't
    swelled on account of their dough, but they
    figure this country's a dead one. Some bloke
    tipped off Dahomey as the original Klondike and
    they're goin' against the brace, hook, line, and
    sinker. I'm goin' to steer the gang down to
    Gatorville where the main Gazaboo of the whole
    push hangs out. Say, fellows, I get two dollars a
    head from the captain of the dugout that snatches
    'em away from this burg, and I've got a  contract
    with a medicine shark, in all cases of sea
    sickness, we split the purse fifty-fifty. If
    anybody pegs out on the trip, I've got an
    undertaker waitin' at the wharf that gives me 35
    percent of the net. Am I asleep at the switch,
    ask me?
  • Talking Points
  • What traditional figure does Hustling Charlie
    evoke?
  • Given this association, how is Shipp deploying
    African American folklore to lampoon the
    Colonization movement?
  • What else do you think Shipp and Dunbar are
    trying to suggest about community (and
    nationalism) with the figure of Hustling Charley?
  • How does history, in a theatrical venue (granted)
    repeat itself in Hustling Charleys con?

23
Vaudeville The Heart of American Show Business
  1. Vaudeville was a theatrical genre of variety
    entertainment in the United States and Canada
    from the early 1880s until the early 1930s.
  2. Each performance was made up of a series of
    separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a
    common bill.
  3. Types of acts included popular and classical
    musicians, dancers, comedians, trained animals,
    magicians, female and male impersonators,
    acrobats, jugglers, one-act plays or scenes from
    plays, minstrels and movies .
  4. Although its origins may lie in Voix de Ville, it
    is a distinctly American form of polite,
    bourgeoisie entertainment.

24
Pop Culture In Dahomey as Meta-Theatre
RAREBACK  You're just as much a detective as
you're ever going to be. I can see now that
you'll never be a Nick Carter or an Old Sleuth.
SHYLOCK  You always castin' up reflections. I
never heard of dis man Nick Carter or old Hoof
either. RAREBACK  Never heard of Nick Carter
and Old Sleuth? Why, Shy, they're the greatest
detectives in the world. Nick Carter is the only
man living that's been shot through the heart
forty-one times, and Old Sleuth's been knocked in
the head with his arms tied behind him and a gag
in his mouth and throwed in every sewer in the
country.
  • Talking Points
  • Why do Dunbar and Shipp choose to infuse a
    literary tradition tied to mass culture into an
    authentic African-American Play?
  • What does this infusion ask of the audience? And
    what are the implications and resonances of this
    suggestion?
  • How does the fact that these to Black
    black-facedminstrel/trickster characters take
    fictional white detectives as role models impact
    your take on Shylock and Rareback?
  • Names and Vaudeville

25
Folklore Harris, Uncle Remus, Mars John and Old
Black Joe to preserve in permanent shape those
curious mementoes of a period that will no doubt
be sadly misrepresented by historians of the
future."
Joel Chandler Harris


Ol Black Joe (1845-1908)


  • --------------------------------------------------
    --------------------------------------------------
    ----
  • Emancipation Day
  • (Repeat chorus) Many long years ago there was
    poor Old Black Joe Use to walk just like this
    for a prize. There was big Jasper Brown, the cake
    walker clown, Walk'd like this with his best gal
    Miss Lize. Old Tildy Snow, and Bill Jones, with
    his rheumatic bones, To see them walk was fun.
    With that old-style prance, they have no chance
    When this late-style cake walk is done.

Stephen Collins Foster (1826-1864)
26
The Question of a Common Origin Setting and
SettlingTheres No Place Like Home--Boston,
Gatorville, Dahomey
  • Act 2, Scene 1
  • (Exterior of LIGHTFOOT home, garden of the summer
    house. Chorus sings "For Florida.") For Florida
    our home so bright. Our voices ring with true
    delight. From verdant vale to arid stand, She is
    for 'ere a summer land. Her tree, her rocks, her
    streamlets clear, To all our loyal hearts are
    dear. So let us sing it loud and long, For
    Florida, a song, a song. We are the children of
    the sun. Upon our brows His work is done. Tho'
    rude and black our faces be, Our hearts are
    brave, our hands are free. And as we sing, so
    shall we strive, As long as loyalty's alive. Our
    hearts, our arms, our souls, hurrah, For Florida!
    For Florida!
  • (Enter from the house, CICERO LIGHTFOOT in shirt
    sleeves and apron, spoon in hand)
  • CICERO  Dat song expresses my sentiments to the
    letter. After all, there ain't no place like
    Florida.
  • MOSES  'Ceptin' Dahomey, but outside of Dahomey
    and Boston, I endorse your statements.
  • CICERO  I don't know nothin' about no other
    place 'cept Florida. It might be the worse place
    in the world, but whether it's worst or best,
    it's home, and, Mose (cautiously), if Dahomey
    pulls up shy, I'm comin' back here.
  • TALKING POINTS
  • Puzzle out the symbolic importance of all three
    sites (Boston, Gatorville, and Dahomey) with
    respect to the plays figuration of homeland.
    For whom or for whatdo these places constitute
    homes?
  • To what multiple displacements does Moses and
    Ciceros conversation speak and what is the
    metaphorical resonance of these displacements in
    this context?
  • What are some the multiple symbolic resonances of
    the characters names, an how do these names
    position the characters vis-à-vis the concept of
    nation and government. What multiple ironies
    are, again, at work?
  • Cicero as contented darkie?

27
Cats Eye Shells Trans-Atlantic Hoodoo
  • RAREBACK  It won't do any good for you and I to
    squabble over what can't be helped. I'm in just
    as bad a fix as you are, and I believe all our
    bad luck came through the silver box I got hold
    of just about three hours before we struck the
    wharf.
  • SHYLOCK  I don't know nothin' about our bad
    luck, but I do know all about my bad luck, when
    the man came on board the boat with that rusty
    lookin' coat on and wanted to sell that silver
    box, I was the fust man that reached out my hand
    to get it, but jist as soon as I seen dat a cat
    was scratched on the back, I turned round three
    times, walked backwards four steps, throwed a
    hand full of salt over my left shoulder, and I
    give him back that box so quick, if I was
    superstitious, I'd a swore I seen that cat's
    whiskers move.
  • ....
  • RAREBACK  Instead of being bad luck, a cat turns
    out to be the best friend we ever had . After
    this you ought to hug and kiss every cat you run
    across.
  • SHYLOCK  I've got to admit if it wasn't for that
    cat's picture, you couldn't tell that box from no
    other silver box therefore, I'm bound to respect
    cats but no fust-class detective ain't goin'
    round huggin' and kissin' cats, no matter how
    much he respects them.
  • In America, cat's eye shells are commonly found
    in African-American mojo bags prepared for
    protection from evil, for uncrossing, and to
    break a jinx. This probably derives from their
    use in European folk-magic and is not the remnant
    of a central African custom, since the evil eye
    belief itself -- and thus the use of eye-charms
    to repel the evil eye-- is Middle-Eastern in
    origin and spread from there to India and to
    Europe. Cultural appropriation being what it is,
    however, cat's eye shells are a regular component
    of voodoo practice and have been for at least a
    couple of centuries.
  • Talking Points
  • The reversal of luck
  • Given what you know of cats eye shells (and
    their different valences in African and
    African-American folklore) and the fact that the
    box belongs to Cicero, what do the multiple
    ironies at work in this passage suggest about
    African-American origins?
  • What role, if any, does The American Dream (as
    accumulation) play in Rareback and Shylocks
    assessments of whats lucky and what is not?

28
On Broadway in Dahomey vs. In Dahomey on Broadway
  • RAREBACK 
  • (laughing) Stick to me and after we're in Dahomey
    six months if you like it, I'll buy it for you.
    I'll tell the King over there that I'm a
    surveyor, and you're a contractor. If he asks for
    a recommendation, I'll tell him to go over to New
    York City and take a look at Broadway -- it's the
    best job the firm ever did, and if he don't mind,
    we'll build him a Broadway in the jungle.
  • (song)
  • If we went to Dahomey, suppose the King would say
    We want a Broadway built for us, we want it right
    away. We'd git a bunch of natives, say ten
    thousand or more Wid banyan trees, build a big
    department store. We'd sell big Georgia possums,
    some water melons, too. To get the coin for other
    things we'd like to do. If we couldn't have real
    horse cars, we'd use zebras for awhile On the
    face of the Broadway clock, use a crockodial.
  • CHORUS  On Broadway in Dahomey bye and bye We'll
    build a Bamboo Railway to the sky. You'll see on
    the sides of the rocks and hills, On Broadway in
    Dahomey bye and bye. We'd git some large Gorillas
    and use them for police, then git a Hippopotamus
    for Justice of the Peace. We'd build a nice roof
    garden somewhere along the line, Serve Giraffe
    Highballs and real Cokenut wine. We'd use Montana
    Diamonds to make Electric light, And then have
    Wagner sung by parrots ev'ry night. We'd have a
    savage festival, serve Rhine-os-erus stew, Have
    pork chops and U-need-a Biscuit too.

29
The Scriptures
30
The Ham Nation Parodying Emigration, Atavistic
Primitivism, Biblical Justifications for
Slavery, and Early Iterations of Pan-Africanism
  • CICERO  Now dat I've got this gold, I'm goin' to
    have my pedigree wrote. There's a gentleman down
    in Cheaterville dat can find the Royal ancestors
    for anybody dat got fifty dollars to spare for
    his trouble. In fact, he said there was a time
    when every darkey was a king.
  • (song) Evah Darkey Is a King Dar's mighty curious
    circumstance Dat's a botherin' all de nation. All
    de yankees is dissatisfied Wid a deir untitled
    station. Dey is huntin' after title Wid a golden
    net to snare 'em! But dey ain't got all de title
    For it is a 'culiar ting. When a dahkey stahts to
    huntin' He is sho' to prove a king.
  • CHORUS  Evah darkey is a king! Royalty is jes' de
    ting. If yo' social life's a bungle, Jes you go
    back to yo' jungle, And remember dat your daddy
    was a king. Scriptures say dat Ham was de first
    black man. Ham's de father of our nation. All de
    black folks to dis very day B'longs right in de
    Ham creation. Ham, he was a king in ancient days,
    An' he reigned in all his glory. So ef we is all
    de Sons of Ham, Natcherlly dat tells de story.
    White folks what's got dahkey servants Try an'
    get dem every thing. You must nevah speak
    insulting. You may be talking to a king.

31
Emancipation Day Cakewalks, Continuity, Jubilee,
Origins, and American Promises
  • CHORUS  On Emancipation Day, All you white fo'ks
    clear de way. Brass ban' playin' sev'ral tunes,
    Darkies eyes look jes' lo'k moons, Marshall of de
    day a struttin', Lord but he is gay. Coons
    dress'd up lak masqueraders, Porters arm'd lak
    rude invaders . When dey hear dem ragtime tunes,
    White fo'ks try to pass fo' coons on Emancipation
    Day. Heah um cry, My oh my, When de'cession shows
    it head. Majors brown Ridin' down on cart hosses
    deck'd in red. Teeth lak pearls, Greet the girls
    standin' dere lak dusky storms. Oh! my pet, What
    a set of owdacious uniforms. Generals stiff as
    hick'ry sticks In de dress of seventy-six .
  • (Repeat chorus)
  • That's How the Cake Walk's Done Cake-walking
    craze, it's a fad nowadays With black folks and
    white folks too, And  I really declare it's done
    ev'rywhere, Though it may be something new to
    you. 'Twas introduced years ago down in Dixie you
    know, By Black folks in Tennessee. So just to
    show you, I'm going to do A cake walk of a high
    degree.
  • CHORUS  Bow to the right, bow to the left, Then
    you proudly take your place. Be sure to have a
    smile on your face, Step high with lots of style
    and grace. With a salty prance do a ragtime
    dance, Step way back and get your gun. With a
    bow, look wise, make goo-goo eyes, For that's
    the  way the cake walk's done. My Grandmother
    told me that she used to be The best cake walker
    in the state, When she walk'd down the line,
    lord, chile she did shine. But of course her
    style is out of date The Parisians, you know,
    they all walk just so, They call it ze cake walk
    dance. But with me you'll agree, That the folks
    from Paree In this cake walk would have no
    chance.

32
Reluctant Prophets First Class Jonah Men
My hard luck started when I was born, leas' so
the old folks say. Dat same hard luck been my
bes' fren' up to dis very day. When I was young
my mamma's frens to find a name they tried. They
named me after Papa and the same day Papa died.
For I'm a Jonah, I'm an unlucky man. My family
for many years would look on me and then shed
tears, Why am I dis Jonah I sho' can't
understand, But I'm a good substantial
full-fledged real first-class Jonah man . A fren'
of mine gave me a six-month meal ticket one day.
He said, "It wont do me no good, I've got to go
away." I thanked him as my heart wid joy and
gratitude did bound. But when I reach'd the
restaurant the place had just burn'd down. For
I'm a Jonah, I'm a unlucky man. It sounds just
like that old, old tale, But sometimes I feel
like a whale. Why am I dis Jonah I sho' can't
understand, But I'm a good substantial
full-fledged real first-class Jonah man.
33
On Broadway in Dahomey
  • RAREBACK  (laughing) Stick to me and after we're
    in Dahomey six months if you like it, I'll buy it
    for you. I'll tell the King over there that I'm a
    surveyor, and you're a contractor. If he asks for
    a recommendation, I'll tell him to go over to New
    York City and take a look at Broadway -- it's the
    best job the firm ever did, and if he don't mind,
    we'll build him a Broadway  in the jungle.
  • (song)
  • If we went to Dahomey, suppose the King
    would say We want a Broadway built for us, we
    want it right away. We'd git a bunch of natives,
    say ten thousand or more Wid banyan trees, build
    a big department store. We'd sell big Georgia
    possums, some water melons, too To get the coin
    for other things we'd like to do. If we couldn't
    have real horse cars, we'd use zebras for awhile
    On the face of the Broadway clock, use a
    crocko-dial.
  • CHORUS  On Broadway in Dahomey bye and bye We'll
    build a Bamboo Railway to the sky. You'll see on
    the sides of the rocks and hills, On Broadway in
    Dahomey bye and bye. We'd git some large Gorillas
    and use them for police, then git a Hippopotamus
    for Justice of the Peace. We'd build a nice roof
    garden somewhere along the line, Serve Giraffe
    Highballs and real Cokenut wine. We'd use Montana
    Diamonds to make Electric light, And then have
    Wagner sung by parrots ev'ry night. We'd have a
    savage festival, serve Rhine-os-erus stew, Have
    pork chops and U-need-a Biscuit too.

34
Playing-Out Good and Bad Solutions The Third Act
35
Act 3 My Lady Frog Parodying Sophomoric
Solutions
  • Act 3
  • My Lady Frog
  • (sung by chorus) Where the water-lilies cluster
    'Neath drooping willows When the moon so soft
    and tender Peeps through the trees Where the
    vines of brilliant lustre, Find mossy pillows
    Where the ferns so tall and slender Sway with the
    breeze, There lived a lady frog, green pollywog
    was she Her lover tho' was one of brown.
    Throughout the whole night long a little song
    sang he, And whispered for the moon was looking
    down.
  • (sung by male frog) My lady frog of opal hue,
    Here on this log, I sing to you. Bright as the
    flies That light this bog, So are your eyes, My
    lady frog.
  • (sung by chorus) As the lovers sat a-waiting,
    From o'er the way Came a frog with chest a
    swelling, A bull frog green. Told he of a palace
    waiting, In grand array, How the lady of his
    dwelling, Would be a queen. And tho' 'tis sad to
    say, he took away this maid. The frog of brown
    now croaks with pain, And when the night is
    still, from o'er the hill, 'tis said You hear in
    mournful tones the old refrain.
  • Talking Points
  • 1)

36
Act 3 My Dahomian Queen Parodying Sophomoric
Solutions
  • (Repeat male solo)
  • (Exit Chorus and lights out. Change to Garden of
    the King of Dahomey)
  • My Dahomian Queen In Dahomey so grand, Just along
    side the strand, Lives a Moorish maid so near and
    dear to me. When I sought her heart and hand, She
    made me understand That if I wish'd my little
    bride she'd be. When the moon is brightly
    beamin', From the azure skies a streamin', In my
    cottage I'm a dreamin', A dreamin' of our weddin'
    day. Natives of exalted station, Potentates from
    ev'ry nation. Will be there to hear me when I say
    --
  • CHORUS  My Dahomian queen, My dusky turtle dove,
    What a beautiful scene, Me and my lady love.
    She's so sweet and serene, Fresh from the jungle
    green, Royal Dahomian queen, My Dahomian queen.
    When I become a king, All the jingle bells will
    ring, While through the streets on palanquins
    we're borne. 'Twill be the grandest thing, Just
    to hear the natives sing, As loyally they fall
    before my throne. Caboceers will be our sentry,
    'Rabian knights will be our gentry, The wonder of
    the twentieth century. A-makin' even sunlight
    fade. Seems the breezes will be sighin' Nature
    with itself be a-vieing A-singin' while my babe
    and I parade --
  • (Repeat chorus)
  • Caboceers Entrance We are the loyal subjects of
    King Eat-Em-All, The ruler over all our states
    both great and small. Great is his name, more
    great his fame, Before his Majesty all nations
    prostrate fall. Forward with chargers dashing,
    Their armor brightly flashing, With bayonets a
    clashing Like demons they hunt the fray. The
    Caboceers! We greet with cheers! The Caboceers,
    long be their years! The Caboceers! We greet with
    cheers! The Caboceers, long be their years!
    Mighty their reign and glorious, Their power all
    victorious, Like gods of light before us They
    come, the world to sway, to sway, to sway.

37
Embracing a Dark(ie) Past Cicero Reclaiming
the Shameful Instead of the Imaginary
  • (Chorus enters as African chiefs, soldiers,
    natives, dancing girls. After march, chorus comes
    to front of stage, kneels and sings choral
    descriptive of glories of Cannibal King and
    Caboceers. At the middle of the choral, they rise
    at the words "Mighty ruler of our nation" and
    sway to and fro with swinging palm leaves. At the
    end, the chorus falls prostrate to the floor on
    their faces to greet SHYLOCK HOMESTEAD  and
    RAREBACK PUNKERTON dressed as Caboceers. Song
    "Every Darkey Is a King." Dialogue follows in
    which the box with cat's eye is found . CICERO
    LIGHTFOOT is disgusted with Dahomey and announces
    his return to America. The musical concludes with
    two rousing numbers "Emancipation Day," and a
    triumphant cake-walk -- most popular dance of the
    era -- a production number that lasted  twenty
    minutes.)
  • Talking Points
  • 1)

38
American Colonization Society Emigration,
Repatriation, or Colonization?
  • In 1822, the American Colonization Society
    (A.C.S.) which was the primary vehicle for
    returning black Americans to greater freedom in
    Africa, established Liberia as a place to send
    people who were formerly enslaved. This movement
    of black people by the A.C.S. had broad support
    nationwide among white people in America,
    including prominent leaders such as Henry Clay
    and James Monroe, who saw this as preferable to
    emancipation in America, with Clay believing
    "unconquerable prejudice resulting from their
    color, they never could amalgamate with the free
    whites of this country".
  • Talking Points
  • 1) What is beyond the
  • comprehension of Stampfield?.
  • How do his lack of
  • understanding (or concerns)
  • speak to the plays political
  • concerns and treatments?
  • 2) What are the ironies and
  • metaphorical import of Moses
  • remark about Indians and
  • reservations? How
  • does it complicate his earlier
  • Rejection of the U.S.? How
  • Does it distance him from the
  • Natives and what is the impact
  • Of this distancing?
  • 3) What seems to be the
  • chief motivation behind the
  • societys efforts? How is this

STAMPFIELD  You shouldn't let trifles annoy you.
I'll dare say you'll find the population of
Dahomey quite as much a source of annoyance as
the colored population of this country. Your
exalted opinion of the ideal life to be found in
a barbarous country is beyond my comprehension.
MOSES  It's all right for you, son, to argue
that way, 'cause you 'specs to live and die
amongst these white folks here in the United
States, but the colonization society that leaves
this country for Dahomey takes a different view
of the matter. In the first place, we've
'vestigated the country and found out just what's
what. STAMPFIELD  In other words, the existing
conditions. MOSES  (doubtfully) Yes. Everything
points to success. They tell me that gold and
silver in Dahomey is plentiful, as the whiskey is
on election day in Bosting Boston. The
climate's fine -- just the right thing for
raisin' chickens and watermelons. It never snows
so you don't need no clothes (pauses) sich as the
people wear here, and who know but what you can
get a few franchises from the king to start
street cars, 'lectric lights and saloons to
running. STAMPFIELD  You've fine, big ideas, but
suppose the natives suddenly don't take kindly to
the new order of things and refuse to be electric
lighted, salooned and otherwise fixed up with
blessings of civilization. Suppose they look upon
you as intruders and instead of receiving you
with open arms (pause) make war on you. MOSES 
(slowly) If it comes to that, we'll arrange with
dem gentlemen like Uncle Sam did with the
Indians. STAMPFIELD  How is that? MOSES  Kick
the stuffin' out of dem and put them on a
reservation.
39
Reverse Passage?
  • HUSTLING CHARLEY Well, there's a society down in
    Florida that's been pilin' up coin for years. Now
    that they're flush, they're goin' to go blow.
    They ain't satisfied to see their noodles ain't
    swelled on account of their dough, but they
    figure this country's a dead one. Some bloke
    tipped off Dahomey as the original Klondike and
    they're goin' against the brace, hook, line, and
    sinker. I'm goin' to steer the gang down to
    Gatorville where the main Gazaboo of the whole
    push hangs out. Say, fellows, I get two dollars a
    head from the captain of the dugout that snatches
    'em away from this burg, and I've got a  contract
    with a medicine shark, in all cases of sea
    sickness, we split the purse fifty-fifty. If
    anybody pegs out on the trip, I've got an
    undertaker waitin' at the wharf that gives me 35
    percent of the net. Am I asleep at the switch,
    ask me?
  • Talking Points
  • What traditional figure does Hustling Charlie
    evoke?
  • Given this association, how is Shipp deploying
    African American folklore to lampoon the
    Colonization movement?
  • What else do you think Shipp and Dunbar are
    trying to suggest about community (and
    nationalism) with the figure of Hustling Charley?
  • How does history, in a theatrical venue (granted)
    repeat itself in Hustling Charleys con?

40
Vaudeville The Heart of American Show Business
  1. Vaudeville was a theatrical genre of variety
    entertainment in the United States and Canada
    from the early 1880s until the early 1930s.
  2. Each performance was made up of a series of
    separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a
    common bill.
  3. Types of acts included popular and classical
    musicians, dancers, comedians, trained animals,
    magicians, female and male impersonators,
    acrobats, jugglers, one-act plays or scenes from
    plays, minstrels and movies .
  4. Although its origins may lie in Voix de Ville, it
    is a distinctly American form of polite,
    bourgeoisie entertainment.

41
Pop Culture In Dahomey as Meta-Theatre
RAREBACK  You're just as much a detective as
you're ever going to be. I can see now that
you'll never be a Nick Carter or an Old Sleuth.
SHYLOCK  You always castin' up reflections. I
never heard of dis man Nick Carter or old Hoof
either. RAREBACK  Never heard of Nick Carter
and Old Sleuth? Why, Shy, they're the greatest
detectives in the world. Nick Carter is the only
man living that's been shot through the heart
forty-one times, and Old Sleuth's been knocked in
the head with his arms tied behind him and a gag
in his mouth and throwed in every sewer in the
country.
  • Talking Points
  • Why do Dunbar and Shipp choose to infuse a
    literary tradition tied to mass culture into an
    authentic African-American Play?
  • What does this infusion ask of the audience? And
    what are the implications and resonances of this
    suggestion?
  • How does the fact that these to Black
    black-facedminstrel/trickster characters take
    fictional white detectives as role models impact
    your take on Shylock and Rareback?
  • Names and Vaudeville

42
Folklore Harris, Uncle Remus, Mars John and Old
Black Joe to preserve in permanent shape those
curious mementoes of a period that will no doubt
be sadly misrepresented by historians of the
future."
Joel Chandler Harris


Ol Black Joe (1845-1908)


  • --------------------------------------------------
    --------------------------------------------------
    ----
  • Emancipation Day
  • (Repeat chorus) Many long years ago there was
    poor Old Black Joe Use to walk just like this
    for a prize. There was big Jasper Brown, the cake
    walker clown, Walk'd like this with his best gal
    Miss Lize. Old Tildy Snow, and Bill Jones, with
    his rheumatic bones, To see them walk was fun.
    With that old-style prance, they have no chance
    When this late-style cake walk is done.

Stephen Collins Foster (1826-1864)
43
The Question of a Common Origin Setting and
SettlingTheres No Place Like Home--Boston,
Gatorville, Dahomey
  • Act 2, Scene 1
  • (Exterior of LIGHTFOOT home, garden of the summer
    house. Chorus sings "For Florida.") For Florida
    our home so bright. Our voices ring with true
    delight. From verdant vale to arid stand, She is
    for 'ere a summer land. Her tree, her rocks, her
    streamlets clear, To all our loyal hearts are
    dear. So let us sing it loud and long, For
    Florida, a song, a song. We are the children of
    the sun. Upon our brows His work is done. Tho'
    rude and black our faces be, Our hearts are
    brave, our hands are free. And as we sing, so
    shall we strive, As long as loyalty's alive. Our
    hearts, our arms, our souls, hurrah, For Florida!
    For Florida!
  • (Enter from the house, CICERO LIGHTFOOT in shirt
    sleeves and apron, spoon in hand)
  • CICERO  Dat song expresses my sentiments to the
    letter. After all, there ain't no place like
    Florida.
  • MOSES  'Ceptin' Dahomey, but outside of Dahomey
    and Boston, I endorse your statements.
  • CICERO  I don't know nothin' about no other
    place 'cept Florida. It might be the worse place
    in the world, but whether it's worst or best,
    it's home, and, Mose (cautiously), if Dahomey
    pulls up shy, I'm comin' back here.
  • TALKING POINTS
  • Puzzle out the symbolic importance of all three
    sites (Boston, Gatorville, and Dahomey) with
    respect to the plays figuration of homeland.
    For whom or for whatdo these places constitute
    homes?
  • To what multiple displacements does Moses and
    Ciceros conversation speak and what is the
    metaphorical resonance of these displacements in
    this context?
  • What are some the multiple symbolic resonances of
    the characters names, an how do these names
    position the characters vis-à-vis the concept of
    nation and government. What multiple ironies
    are, again, at work?
  • Cicero as contented darkie?

44
Cats Eye Shells Trans-Atlantic Hoodoo
  • RAREBACK  It won't do any good for you and I to
    squabble over what can't be helped. I'm in just
    as bad a fix as you are, and I believe all our
    bad luck came through the silver box I got hold
    of just about three hours before we struck the
    wharf.
  • SHYLOCK  I don't know nothin' about our bad
    luck, but I do know all about my bad luck, when
    the man came on board the boat with that rusty
    lookin' coat on and wanted to sell that silver
    box, I was the fust man that reached out my hand
    to get it, but jist as soon as I seen dat a cat
    was scratched on the back, I turned round three
    times, walked backwards four steps, throwed a
    hand full of salt over my left shoulder, and I
    give him back that box so quick, if I was
    superstitious, I'd a swore I seen that cat's
    whiskers move.
  • ....
  • RAREBACK  Instead of being bad luck, a cat turns
    out to be the best friend we ever had . After
    this you ought to hug and kiss every cat you run
    across.
  • SHYLOCK  I've got to admit if it wasn't for that
    cat's picture, you couldn't tell that box from no
    other silver box therefore, I'm bound to respect
    cats but no fust-class detective ain't goin'
    round huggin' and kissin' cats, no matter how
    much he respects them.
  • In America, cat's eye shells are commonly found
    in African-American mojo bags prepared for
    protection from evil, for uncrossing, and to
    break a jinx. This probably derives from their
    use in European folk-magic and is not the remnant
    of a central African custom, since the evil eye
    belief itself -- and thus the use of eye-charms
    to repel the evil eye-- is Middle-Eastern in
    origin and spread from there to India and to
    Europe. Cultural appropriation being what it is,
    however, cat's eye shells are a regular component
    of voodoo practice and have been for at least a
    couple of centuries.
  • Talking Points
  • The reversal of luck the tension between our and
    my
  • Given what you know of cats eye shells (and
    their different valences in African and
    African-American folklore) and the fact that the
    box belongs to Cicero, what do the multiple
    ironies at work in this passage suggest about
    African-American origins?
  • What role, if any, does The American Dream (as
    accumulation) play in Rareback and Shylocks
    assessments of whats lucky and what is not?

45
On Broadway in Dahomey vs. In Dahomey on Broadway
  • RAREBACK  (laughing) Stick to me and after we're
    in Dahomey six months if you like it, I'll buy it
    for you. I'll tell the King over there that I'm a
    surveyor, and you're a contractor. If he asks for
    a recommendation, I'll tell him to go over to New
    York City and take a look at Broadway -- it's the
    best job the firm ever did, and if he don't mind,
    we'll build him a Broadway  in the jungle.
  • (song)
  • If we went to Dahomey, suppose the King
    would say We want a Broadway built for us, we
    want it right away. We'd git a bunch of natives,
    say ten thousand or more Wid banyan trees, build
    a big department store. We'd sell big Georgia
    possums, some water melons, too To get the coin
    for other things we'd like to do. If we couldn't
    have real horse cars, we'd use zebras for awhile
    On the face of the Broadway clock, use a
    crocko-dial.
  • CHORUS  On Broadway in Dahomey bye and bye We'll
    build a Bamboo Railway to the sky. You'll see on
    the sides of the rocks and hills, On Broadway in
    Dahomey bye and bye. We'd git some large Gorillas
    and use them for police, then git a Hippopotamus
    for Justice of the Peace. We'd build a nice roof
    garden somewhere along the line, Serve Giraffe
    Highballs and real Cokenut wine. We'd use Montana
    Diamonds to make Electric light, And then have
    Wagner sung by parrots ev'ry night. We'd have a
    savage festival, serve Rhine-os-erus stew, Have
    pork chops and U-need-a Biscuit too.
  • Talking Points
  • Given what the play has already revealed to us
    (via that cat shells) distinct differences
    (reversals, really) between Africans and
    African-Americans, describe the different
    resonances and significance of the two phrases in
    the slides title.
  • To what multiple effects is Dunbar using dialect
    in this song?
  • Describe the multiple misconceptions and
    ambitions of Rarerback (and the Chorus) with
    respect to Dahomey.

46
Playing-Out Good and Bad Solutions to the Race
Problem The Third Act
47
Act 3 My Lady Frog Parodying Sophomoric
Solutions
  • Act 3
  • My Lady Frog
  • (sung by chorus) Where the water-lilies cluster
    'Neath drooping willows When the moon so soft
    and tender Peeps through the trees Where the
    vines of brilliant lustre, Find mossy pillows
    Where the ferns so tall and slender Sway with the
    breeze, There lived a lady frog, green pollywog
    was she Her lover tho' was one of brown.
    Throughout the whole night long a little song
    sang he, And whispered for the moon was looking
    down.
  • (sung by male frog) My lady frog of opal hue,
    Here on this log, I sing to you. Bright as the
    flies That light this bog, So are your eyes, My
    lady frog.
  • (sung by chorus) As the lovers sat a-waiting,
    From o'er the way Came a frog with chest a
    swelling, A bull frog green. Told he of a palace
    waiting, In grand array, How the lady of his
    dwelling, Would be a queen. And tho' 'tis sad to
    say, he took away this maid. The frog of brown
    now croaks with pain, And when the night is
    still, from o'er the hill, 'tis said You hear in
    mournful tones the old refrain.
  • Talking Points-
  • What is the allegory being drawn here? Speculate
    as to the audience reaction with respect to the
    beginning of the third act (a duet between
    frogs). Given that a minstrel shows olio
    would, most likely, begin with a long romantic
    song of lost love (sung my a woman) meant to
    evoke pathos, what type of parody is occurring
    here? What does the gender inversion, if
    anything,signify? What are the multiple reasons
    and resonances of the reasons that has led to the
    frogs lost love, and how do they, when
    considered in light of Mosess efforts, make a
    satiric commentary on the Colonization movement
    (or the idea of repatriation)?
  • Remember that these actors would be playing
    frogs in blackface. What commentary does the
    play make on the stage with respect to
    race-relations (and race-relations on as as, in
    part, manufactured by the stage) make by have
    actors in black face perform the parts of Blacks
    as well as of the parts of these frogs?
  • Speculate as to the multiple reasons why the
    third act (our entrance to Dahomey) would begin
    with a ludicrous tale of lost love song by what
    amount to, more or less, fairy-tale frogs?

48
Act 3 My Dahomian Queen Parodying Sophomoric
Solutions
  • (Repeat male solo)
  • (Exit Chorus and lights out. Change to Garden of
    the King of Dahomey)
  • My Dahomian Queen In Dahomey so grand, Just along
    side the strand, Lives a Moorish maid so near and
    dear to me. When I sought her heart and hand, She
    made me understand That if I wish'd my little
    bride she'd be. When the moon is brightly
    beamin', From the azure skies a streamin', In my
    cottage I'm a dreamin', A dreamin' of our weddin'
    day. Natives of exalted station, Potentates from
    ev'ry nation. Will be there to hear me when I say
    --
  • CHORUS  My Dahomian queen, My dusky turtle dove,
    What a beautiful scene, Me and my lady love.
    She's so sweet and serene, Fresh from the jungle
    green, Royal Dahomian queen, My Dahomian queen.
    When I become a king, All the jingle bells will
    ring, While through the streets on palanquins
    we're borne. 'Twill be the grandest thing, Just
    to hear the natives sing, As loyally they fall
    before my throne. Caboceers will be our sentry,
    'Rabian knights will be our gentry, The wonder of
    the twentieth century. A-makin' even sunlight
    fade. Seems the breezes will be sighin' Nature
    with itself be a-vieing A-singin' while my babe
    and I parade --
  • (Repeat chorus)
  • Caboceers Entrance We are the loyal subjects of
    King Eat-Em-All, The ruler over all our states
    both great and small. Great is his name, more
    great his fame, Before his Majesty all nations
    prostrate fall. Forward with chargers dashing,
    Their armor brightly flashing, With bayonets a
    clashing Like demons they hunt the fray. The
    Caboceers! We greet with cheers! The Caboceers,
    long be their years! The Caboceers! We greet with
    cheers! The Caboceers, long be their years!
    Mighty their reign and glorious, Their power all
    victorious, Like gods of light before us They
    come, the world to sway, to sway, to sway.
  • Talking Points
  • What are the multiple ironies involved when
    Dunbar chooses to have the Chorus sing about My
    Dahomian Queen? How does the very phrasing of
    this appellation (as we all as the use of the
    term natives) implicitly critique these
    settlers, and how does their ultimate desire (to
    possess a Dahomenian queen) both critique
    movements like the ACS and speak to the projects
    of black nationalism and internationalism?
  • We have our first depiction of the natives here.
    How would you characterize it? Is it realistic?
    If not, what does the appearance of
    King-Eat-Em-All,
  • What are the multiple ironies invoked by the
    presence of the Caboceers and their likening to
    gods by the settlers?

49
African-American Christianity and the Scriptures
in In Dahomey
50
The Ham Nation Parodying Emigration, Atavistic
Primitivism, Biblical Justifications for
Slavery, and Early Iterations of Pan-Africanism
  • CICERO  Now dat I've got this gold, I'm goin' to
    have my pedigree wrote. There's a gentleman down
    in Cheaterville dat can find the Royal ancestors
    for anybody dat got fifty dollars to spare for
    his trouble. In fact, he said there was a time
    when every darkey was a king.
  • (song) Evah Darkey Is a King Dar's mighty curious
    circumstance Dat's a botherin' all de nation. All
    de yankees is dissatisfied Wid a deir untitled
    station. Dey is huntin' after title Wid a golden
    net to snare 'em! But dey ain't got all de title
    For it is a 'culiar ting. When a dahkey stahts to
    huntin' He is sho' to prove a king.
  • CHORUS  Evah darkey is a king! Royalty is jes' de
    ting. If yo' social life's a bungle, Jes you go
    back to yo' jungle, And remember dat your daddy
    was a king. Scriptures say dat Ham was de first
    black man. Ham's de father of our nation. All de
    black folks to dis very day B'longs right in de
    Ham creation. Ham, he was a king in ancient days,
    An' he reigned in all his glory. So ef we is all
    de Sons of Ham, Natcherlly dat tells de story.
    White folks what's got dahkey servants Try an'
    get dem every thing. You must nevah speak
    insulting. You may be talking to a king.
  • Talking Points
  • By the plays end, we know that both Moses and
    Cicero have both been tricked, but, in this
    scene, we learn that they were tricked in
    different ways. Describe the differences (and
    the multiple resonance of these differences)
    between the rationales (or forces) motivating
    Cicero and Moses to return to Africa? How do
    these differences speak to the notions of
    atavistic primitivism, U.S. imperialism, Black
    nationalism, and the potential for an
    international Colored collective?
  • Describe the multiple ironies at work in the
    phrase there was a time when every darkey was a
    king (especially when considered in light of the
    ge
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