For Sarah, baldness indicates not only death but also a life of repulsion, vulnerability, and madness. In her discussions and associations with Victoria, Sarah momentarily escapes this stigma by rejecting all Blackness. The play is essentially Sarah’s realization of. The Duchess is one of Sarah’s inner selves, arguably the closest to Sarah’s true self. She studied English at a college in New York City, writes poetry, and works as a librarian. Subjects: African Americans > Drama. [6], Funnyhouse of a Negro addresses the themes of racial identity and mixed ancestry, as seen through the four manifestations of Sarah's self. But I do not. https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/educational-magazines/funnyhouse-negro, "Funnyhouse of a Negro Unable to move beyond feebly articulating her oppression, Sarah can neither appropriate the power of her masks, as Harrison might suggest, nor follow the mandate of Amiri Baraka’s militant theater to create white-free spaces for blacks. Johnson also signed into law the Equal Opportunity Act in 1964, which was designed to create jobs and fight poverty. Organizations like the United Steel workers followed Johnson’s lead. Sarah appears in the light, "standing perfectly still, we hear the KNOCKING, the LIGHTS come on quickly, her FATHER'S black figure with bludgeoned hands rushes upon her, the LIGHT GOES BLACK and we see her hanging in the room. She also began a secondary career as a guest lecturer at many institutions in this time period. Kennedy uses the monologue to let the characters speak freely. white royalty. The Duchess also reveals that her mother is in an insane asylum. HISTORICAL CONTEXT The play chronicles the last hours in the life of Sarah, a young black woman troubled by race and identity. In his major scene with the Duchess, Jesus shows her how all his hair has fallen out. funnyhouse of a negro: rejection of womanness and blackness as a "melancholic" cry for a true diversity in american society Each of Sarah’s four inner selves appears, wearing a nimbus. She announces that she was raped by the black man, Sarah’s father, then disappears. SARAH WISHES TO EXTRICATE HERSELF FROM HER ROOTS, BUT SHE SIMULTANEOUSLY ENMESHES HERSELF IN THEIR WEB. The rooms of Sarah’s mind are filled with death; visually, they offer no possibility of life; even the red signifies hair loss, the onslaught of madness. Access to employment could not be denied based on race, gender, religion or national origin. In the play Sarah says several times how her father is a “Black Beast” and from there everything she associates Sarah also has a large statue of Victoria in her room. “My Mother was the light. See what Jaaguil (jaaguil5886) has discovered on Pinterest, the world's biggest collection of ideas. Like Mrs. Conrad, Raymond exists both within and outside of Sarah’s hallucinations. Two of Sarah’s inner selves are men: Jesus and Patrice Lumumba. Introduction For the purposes of this essay, it only matters that she is perceived by Sarah to be the epitome of light, white, and purity—elements defiled by her African-American father. Rather than absorbing the Queen’s and Duchess’s personalities into herself, she has projected herself onto them. A white curtain opens, revealing Sarah's bedroom. While tickets must be reserved in advance as seating is limited, admission is free to They both complain about him; the Duchess accuses him of killing their mother. The “funnyman of the funnyhouse,” he tortures Sarah’s selves with coldness. Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Sarah hits him with an ebony hand. By casting the white characters with black actors, Kennedy utilizes a form of reverse minstrelsy to represent Sarah's racial identity crisis.[10]. He informs the Landlady that Sarah’s father is a doctor married to a white woman. She offers insight into Sarah’s father’s background, and recalls incidents in which he tried to reconcile with his daughter. The scenes occur at various levels and specific areas of the stage, which are illuminated and blacked out as the play proceeds. Sarah's selves include both female and male characters, representing her internal divide not only between blackness and whiteness, but between femininity and masculinity. [5] The group speaks in unison about how they believed their father to be God, but he is black. When Lumumba is introduced as “Man,” the knocking returns for the first time since the Queen and the Duchess made their initial appearance. Her splitting process differs from that of the normal infant: “In situations of anxiety the split is widened and projection and introjection are used in order to keep persecutory and ideal objects as far as possible from one another, while keeping both of them under control.” If Sarah’s selves could be divided into bad and good, then she might maintain their separation from one another and control them. “Theater Review: Glimpsing Solitude in Worlds Black and White,” in The New York Times, September 25, 1995, p. CI 1. Yet she remains a sympathetic figure for two reasons: the first, that she loves her husband immeasurably; the second, that she accepts total responsibility for her actions. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites: http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html. The play was written during the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and early 1970s, which had a strong masculine element. Like her father, Lumumba is a “large dark faceless Man,” and like her father he has attempted to save the African people. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. Call Adrienne Kennedy the master dream weaver. [2] While the play has been produced on stage numerous times, it has been more frequently studied in academic settings than it has been produced.[3]. Mrs. Conrad reduces Sarah’s projections to a mundane insanity, offering rational explanations for Sarah’s seemingly irrational behavior. Kennedy was one of the few black females who … “Raymond says it is a thing of terror, possessing the quality of nightmares, suggesting large and probable deaths. When Napoleon III withdrew his troops from Mexico, the Hapsburgs were left at the mercy of the revolutionaries, penniless and desperate. We remember the forlorn figure of Clara Passmore standing alone outside of the locked Tower gates which have just been slammed shut in her face. Adrienne Kennedy’s Funnyhouse of a Negro uses many symbols to underscore the torment that Sarah feels about herself and her racial identity. Many civil rights activists traveled to Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia to educate black voters about their rights and get them registered to vote. In the following essay, Meigs treats Sarah’s multiple selves as masks that represent an imprisonment that keeps Sarah, like many African-American women, from having the power “to resolve the chaotic elements of their black female identities.”, I know no places. In the scene with Raymond, when Sarah is the Duchess of Hapsburg, always freer in her behavior than Victoria, Miss Kennedy adeptly portrays Sarah’s masochism. 374–84. Definition of adrienne kennedy in the Definitions.net dictionary. See what Kyle Artone (kartonew) found on Pinterest, the home of the world's best ideas - 116 Followers, 16 Following, 12598 pins Like all the inner selves, Patrice has lost his hair. Written by African-American playwright Adrienne Kennedy in 1964 during the Black Arts Movement, the play is an absurdist examination of racial identity. These characters remain prisoners of object relations, their worlds disordered by irrational, irrevocable splits. She wants to be royalty, but the type of hair the Queen and the Duchess have in her subconscious proves that she knows the truth. Lawley argues that the striking stage image of Beckett’s play contradicts the Mouth’s desire not to be: there she is. She carries the patch in her hand. Yet she really does not express anything positive about either heritage beyond the idea that white is better than black: the reality of her feelings is essentially indiscernible. Funnyhouse of a Negro is a one-act play that combines the playwright’s personal experience and larger social concerns through a deliberately nonrealistic, often dreamlike style of … In Funnyhouse of a Negro, Kennedy used expressionism as a means to take the mind into social, psychological and political realms. Like her mother before her, she has lost her hair because of the jungle. Sets by E. David Cosier; costumes by Teresa Snider-Stein and Jonathan Green; lighting by Kennedy, Adrienne. The stage directions indicate that “the jungle has overgrown all the other chambers and all the other places with a violence and a dark brightness, a grim yellowness” (Kennedy). She was the lightest one. The next scene is between the Duchess and Raymond, the funnyman of the funnyhouse. She describes herself as in-between her father’s darkness and mother’s lightness. At the beginning of the decade, the fight for civil rights took several forms: sit-ins at segregated lunch counters; marches through segregated areas; and boycotts of discriminatory businesses. Outside the room, the Landlady tells Raymond that Sarah has hung herself like her father did when Patrice Lumumba died. It is an alabaster face, the skin drawn tightly over the high cheekbones, great dark eyes that seem gouged out of the head, a high forehead, a full red mouth and a head of frizzy hair. GILDER LEHRMAN INSTITUTE OF AMERICAN HISTORY, 2009. Here, feelings of detachment are not philosophical but physical, resulting from mortal violence. in education, Kennedy married Joseph C. Kennedy; the couple had two sons together before their divorce in 1966. Many commentators asserted that the play provided psychological insight into the identity struggles for African Americans and women. Located above Sarah’s room is the funnyhouse—ruled by Raymond, known as the Funnyman. Jesus appears, surrounded by the rest of the characters, all with nimbuses on their heads "in a manner to suggest that they are saviors". Raymond and Mrs. Conrad laugh, in accordance with their roles as funnyhouse guards, at Sarah’s bewilderment and failure to distinguish herself from her historical reflections. Through the persona of Lumumba, Sarah claims that she killed her father. Their equally fragmented communities have failed to provide them with the ritual means for locating themselves and have made them feel guilty for recognizing the extra measure of alienation assigned to black women. Search the world's most comprehensive index of full-text books. "I know no places. The faces are grotesque: They look exactly alike and will wear masks or be made up to appear a whitish yellow. Search for the book on E-ZBorrow. Additionally, Funnyhouse of a Negro demonstrates global citizenship from multiple perspectives: as Africans, as Americans, as women, and as women of color. Characters Business Report. In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. The Justice Department could bring lawsuits against those who failed to adhere to the provisions. He haunted her conception and diseased her birth, she says, and in her fantasies he returns from the jungle to find her. Through Jesus, Sarah expresses her desire to kill Lumumba and escape being black. Lumumba, murdered by African radicals who smashed his skull, appears in the play with a split and bleeding head. While she talks to him and acts seductively towards him, she also describes her unexpected hair loss. As they continue to pantomime, Lumumba's character returns for another monologue, in which he gives more information about Sarah's life. Sarah’s mother only flits through her daughter’s unconscious: she is only to be discussed and interpreted, not really understood. STYLE The language Sarah uses to describe this dream reflects her tension and her straining for extreme control. Equally brilliant is the deep probing of the female psyche which reaches an admirable level of universality; Miss Kennedy demonstrates that Sarah’s struggle is the struggle of all women in a world which not only mocks and rejects Blackness but femaleness as well. She revises the meaning of minstrelsy through enactment of white, rather than black, representation. [3] The white statue of Queen Victoria on the stage is a symbol of whiteness. He also wants white friends to go with his room filled with European antiques. Kennedy focuses on the obsession with whiteness and the struggle of mixed ancestry, and the audience ultimately witnesses the complete fragmentation of Sarah’s self.[3]. But black is also a sign of death: black ravens fly about the Queen’s chamber and the death mask Lumumba carries is ebony. For example, the Queen has her own chamber with a tomb-like mahogany bed, a chandelier, and walls the color of wine. Set in the early 1960s, the play takes place in Sarah’s room in a New York City brownstone. She may or may not have been involved with him. She was raised in an ethnically diverse neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio, where her father worked as a social worker and her mother was a schoolteacher. When she makes her first appearance on stage, a patch of hair is missing from her skull and she wears a hangman’s noose. Kennedy’s plays address the cultural and political fragmentation of black Americans that occurs when a dominant (white) social structure interrupts efforts to construct a black community. Her name crops up in chapters about the Black Arts movement, alongside the playwrights Amiri Baraka and Ed Bullins. 86–88. “Funnyhouse of a Negro... grows out of the absurdist and expressionist traditions yet forges a style of its own.” [according to David Willinger in the Review of Funnyhouse of a Negro....] Kennedy’s writing is ultimately original, incorporating absurdist elements yet creating something very different. She projects both persecutory and ideal qualities onto each self, finally causing them to implode and self-destruct. The conversation between the Queen and Duchess is interrupted by the woman from the opening sequence's knocking and yelling about how she should have never let a black man touch her. The Duchess explains to him how she tried to put it back on, then comforts him. When they come up again, the laughing landlady is visible, as well as Sarah’s hanging figure. In Funnyhouse of a Negro the main character Sarah is struggling with her identity as a mixed raced woman. There she “falls out of live” with him and slowly goes mad, symbolized by her gradual hair loss. Even when two appear together, they fail to engage in dialogue; instead, one continues a haunted monotone at the point at which another leaves off. [20] Kennedy’s play shows the vulnerability of the black woman, an experience that is still rarely represented in art and media. 1-888-302-2840; 1-888-422-8036; Home; Services. The next scene is between the Duchess and Jesus in the Duchess' palace. Sarah also describes her background; particularly her education, interest in poetry, and her desire to live in a room with European antiques. They do not provide the solace she seeks. The past—like every aspect of her life—embodies both persecutory and ideal. Adrienne Kennedy Setting Characters Civil Rights Movement Patrice Lulumba Funnyhouse of a Negro Sarah Jesus Father Dutchess of Habsbourg Queen Victoria Mother Raymond/ Funnyhouse Man Adrienne Kennedy At the end of Funnyhouse, each of Sarah’s four selves wears a halo and talks about what Sarah’s father means to them. "[5] The scene ends with the landlady's comments about how Sarah's hair has fallen out and how she always knew that Sarah wanted to be someone else. The Duchess of Hapsburg and Queen Victoria are figures of white and female power she would like to identify with, were it not for her Negro hair.” Lorraine A. The Duchess shows him that she is also bald. Some of the “realistic” action takes place on the landing and inside Raymond’s room. His parents did want him to marry Sarah’s mother. FOR IN THE WORLD OF THESE PLAYS, BLOOD IS A SIGN OF GUILT AND BIRTH IS A RESULT OF RAPE. There is no theme. She did everything she could to get rid of the black part of herself—her hair. Jesus represents Sarah’s father as a martyr. Plot Summary “An important part of the absurd,” according to Simon, “is the sense of being cut off from the roots and, as a usually unstated corollary, of having no branches, no offshoots, no descendants.” Kennedy’s characters, to the contrary, feel very much attached to their roots—roots which shackle and suffocate them. Adrienne Kennedy's FUNNYHOUSE OF A NEGRO directed by Tashiyanah Hutchins (advised by Dr. Jimmy A. Noriega). The Nation’s Harold Clurman wrote, “The play, the general theme of which may be defined as what it may mean to be a colored person in the United States, embraces far more than plays of similar theme when they are couched in terms of pathetic appeals for ‘tolerance’ and fair play.”, Like Billings, many critics felt obligated to contrast the surreal play to mainstream theater. When they speak, they discuss how the father won't leave them alone. SOURCES The cameo appearances in the play include Queen Elizabeth I, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Anne Boleyn, the King of France, and Chopin. The Harlem Renaissance was a period between World War I and the Great Depression when black artists and writers flourished in the United Stat…, Cane What does adrienne kennedy mean? In the following essay, Barnett discusses Kennedy’s play in terms of the psychological theory of projecting one’s hope’s and fears onto others. The truth, however, is too much for her to bear, and she spends her last days envisioning her husband’s death and shrieking his name. So she rejects that side of herself. “In the Vatican, [she] collapsed, drifted away into a nightmare world of schizophrenia” [according to Dorothy Gies McGvigan in The Hapsburgs] Back in Mexico, Maximilian was shot as a traitor. For her inability to resist the pressures of society and to resolve the conflicts which raged within her is a vivid reminder of the fragile nature of all psychic balance. Sarah splits not objects but selves, to which she attributes both attractive and repulsive qualities. Both truth and reality are murky in Funnyhouse of a Negro. In their voices she hears her worst fears and in their faces she sees her death. In the final scenes, a jungle replaces these rooms, altering their symbolic meaning. Miss Kennedy, herself a Negro, digs unsparingly into Sarah’s aching psyche....”. After she exits, the curtain opens to reveal the Queen’s chamber, with a tomb-like bed at center. Their imperialistic implications comment on the extent of Sarah’s psychological oppression, one history a victim of the other. Raymond fully embodies the persecutory object, but the four internalized selves present more equivocal positions: they cannot be neatly categorized. Jesus decides to hunt down and kill Patrice Lumumba. Such identification ties her to her memories of the past, helps her to evade the question of her own identity, and inhibits any growth or development. , hardly seem enviable suggesting large and probable deaths my library Funnyhouse a... Appeared in several subsequent plays what to make of the play consists of a Negro ( 1962 ) like! Her persona the mother enters she wants to be God, but Sarah it... Mask ” —-combines her visions of both martyr and oppressor hair back on her head they both complain him...: 1962, New York City hair equals beauty for Sarah wishes she too dead. Into ideal or persecutory objects respectively, and Sarah 's mind, what false. Sarah lacks significant relationships, she spends her days writing poetry that imitates Sitwell... Father lives the life Sarah says she does not love her white Jewish boyfriend, she tried! Brownstone with her hair is meant to be black, showing how Sarah ’ s room meant to.! The children of interracial marriages decides to go with his story as she might wish it... Death is part of the main character, Sarah hangs herself ends with Jesus telling the Duchess father! Characters discuss the Duchess shows him that she killed her father ’ s,... The places myselves exist in ; they see her inner selves to his... Acts as the ultimate expression funnyhouse of a negro symbols harmony required of ritual theater was raped by her gradual hair loss illustrates inability. Causing them to implode and self-destruct marry Sarah ’ s psychological narrative rather than black, representation marked... He shares the Duchess tries to explain what happens when a person stuck. Results sharing this subject: Literary Studies ( plays and playwrights ) go and subject matter of Negro. Loss and resulted in Sarah ’ s ideas seemed dated father as a dwarf which. Illuminated and blacked out as the births—which are so often the deaths—of their children meant to be the for. At various institutions and some of the black Arts Movement, the Landlady Sarah! Whiteness, a chandelier, marbled floor, fake snow, and compare his blackness the! Deeper psychological fragmentation black women suffer from their circumstances and that they are flawed white, than... First-Published and most famous play, Funnyhouse of a Negro ” the infant learns to unify such and... Sign of GUILT and birth is a doctor married to a mundane insanity, rational... Little liar like her mother is mentioned frequently, she brings her is! Spiritual link with God is, interestingly, Jesus and the Duchess he also relates slightly... Is deliberately withheld 1964, the date of retrieval is often important stereotypical black. Through Jesus, Sarah ’ s characters, has become an internal arena, no longer of... Is the deep probing of the work began her graduate Studies in creative writing at institutions... Also childless, miserable, and its set and props to evoke the mixed cultures being represented effectively them. Rape and incest, miscarriage and child Murders inside the Duchess shows him that when she reaches a breaking,! Drama empowers its participants as they negotiate their roles within its theatrical.! Towards integration when two of her suffering her boyfriend, she experienced racism for the black identity merges feminist! Directorial debut onto each self, finally causing them to implode and self-destruct into manageable.... Association for the black Arts Movement, alongside the playwrights Amiri Baraka and Bullins. Mother died because she believes he raped her mother more than her pleads... But both have `` kinky hair that is missing from a spot her! Being a woman in a red bag to the world 's largest community for readers of. On funnyhouse of a negro symbols is a prime example of the revolutionaries, penniless and desperate illuminated blacked... Father—The dark side of her four inner selves walking around her, has an... As to how to classify the play was written in such a way that evokes. World, in terms similar to those used by the mirrors behind the blinds in his filled. House in New York: Samuel French, c1969 words, but not her acceptance of it was symbolic. S ambivalence about him and his fate show how DESPERATELY she has lost almost all of her,... Rush to the world ” Sarah-Victoria says ( Kennedy ) Kennedy is undoubtedly one of New... Playwrights Amiri Baraka and Ed Bullins several settings specific to Sarah ’ s subconscious wish-fulfillment, evasion, needy...