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Strangeness and Subversion at the Shaftesbury: In Dahomey in London in 1903

Strangeness and Subversion at the Shaftesbury: In Dahomey in London in 1903
Strangeness and Subversion at the Shaftesbury: In Dahomey in London in 1903
Moving away from the identity politics inherent in revisionist biographies of ex- enslaved African Americans abroad, I would like to refocus the vehicle and situation of the Black performance collective that presented In Dahomey abroad. In this, I will refer to the show’s reception rather than deconstruct elements of its script, its songs, or its dancing. I am attempting to recover indigenous narratives of struggle, resistance, and capitualation that drove the company which toured the United Kingdom from the 26th of December 1903 to the 4th of June 1904. For the purposes of this discussion, my thoughts will centre on this account on the 23rd of October 1903, by the drama correspondent for the Times.

"The resultant impression left on our mind was one of strangeness, the strangeness of the “coloured” race blended with the strangeness of certain American things...we can remember nothing quite so strange as In Dahomey. Probably [the] sole design was to show us the African unenslaved, the African in his native majesty, by way of contrast to the Americanized African of the subsequent scenes. Their spectacle is just a little painful – painful and strange."
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Millette, Holly-Gale
909906ff-426b-47ab-a71a-5788ea36c213
Millette, Holly-Gale
909906ff-426b-47ab-a71a-5788ea36c213

Millette, Holly-Gale (2014) Strangeness and Subversion at the Shaftesbury: In Dahomey in London in 1903. The Victorian, 2 (3), 1-19.

Record type: Article

Abstract

Moving away from the identity politics inherent in revisionist biographies of ex- enslaved African Americans abroad, I would like to refocus the vehicle and situation of the Black performance collective that presented In Dahomey abroad. In this, I will refer to the show’s reception rather than deconstruct elements of its script, its songs, or its dancing. I am attempting to recover indigenous narratives of struggle, resistance, and capitualation that drove the company which toured the United Kingdom from the 26th of December 1903 to the 4th of June 1904. For the purposes of this discussion, my thoughts will centre on this account on the 23rd of October 1903, by the drama correspondent for the Times.

"The resultant impression left on our mind was one of strangeness, the strangeness of the “coloured” race blended with the strangeness of certain American things...we can remember nothing quite so strange as In Dahomey. Probably [the] sole design was to show us the African unenslaved, the African in his native majesty, by way of contrast to the Americanized African of the subsequent scenes. Their spectacle is just a little painful – painful and strange."

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Published date: September 2014
Organisations: Winchester School of Art

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 377427
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/377427
PURE UUID: 0350ef92-0028-4c6b-8fe0-3b2cb810921b
ORCID for Holly-Gale Millette: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-4731-3138

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Date deposited: 08 Jun 2015 08:48
Last modified: 10 Nov 2018 01:30

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