A Home You Can’t Live in: Performances of the Black Body and Domestic Space in Contemporary Drama
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Theatre is often an invitation to enter the black home subject to its violations and crisis; this thesis repositions the black home and body in contemporary American and British theatre as constructed by the narratives and transgressions of the moment they are in. I examine Suzan-Lori Parks’ In the Blood, Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop and Sabrina Mahfouz’s Chef as sites of memory, nostalgia, and trauma where what is considered “home” resists the safety of concrete walls and a white picket fence. Instead, I argue the playwrights suggest, with their black female protagonists, that home transcends the material. Parks, Hall, and Mahfouz each meditate on what it means for black women to dwell in unsafe places, the home you don’t want to return to. This is significant in that it encourages a respect for the lived experiences and cultural knowledge acquired in autonomous homes and bodies of black women whose narratives have often been made invisible.