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Lynette Goddard

INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM 2006

Lynette Goddard

 

debbie tucker green's ‘in-yer face' black womanist playwriting

ABSTRACT


 

Lynette Goddard

 

 

I have always had an ambivalent relationship to black British women's writing, on the one hand wanting to really like it simply for putting black British characters on stage, but on the other feeling upset that much of it regurgitates unchallenging perspectives of our cultural identity. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to find myself suddenly excited by the work of millennial playwright debbie tucker green whose plays have been staged in London since 2003 to critical acclaim.

tucker green offers a black womanist perspective, whilst also fitting quite comfortably into conventions of the contemporary British stage. Theatre critics immediately placed her plays within the in-yer-face traditions of Sarah Kane et al, the (white) feminist writing styles of Caryl Churchill, the elliptical styles of Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter, and other Euro-American white playwrights (Berkoff, Genet, Ibsen, Mamet and so on) but she claims that her influences come from black music and poetry, particularly Louise Bennett, Ntozake Shange, and rapper/ songwriters such as Lauryn Hill and Jill Scott.

This paper will explore how the style and content of tucker green's playwriting represents contemporary perspectives of women's relationships with each other, provocatively subverting the conventions of black and white theatre that her work is located within to present pertinent models for staging black feminism in the twenty first century. There are some key differences in content and form both between her work and the in-yer-face genre, and in relation to past and contemporary black British (women's) playwriting. Specifically, where black women playwrights have been unduly criticised for being too angry in their plays, and may have toned-down their representations to suit predominately white audiences, tucker green seems to have found a way of writing that allows her to vent her anger about contemporary issues that seems to work for white audiences and remain true to the black influences she draws upon, striking a difficult balance that lies at the heart of her success on the contemporary British stage.

 

BIOGRAPHY


 

 

Lynette Goddard lectures in The Department of Drama and Theatre at Royal Holloway, University of London, where she specialises in contemporary Anglo-American black and Asian women's theatre. Her research on British black women's theatre is published in Alternatives Within the Mainstream II: British Postwar Queer Theatres (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2006) , Companion to Black British Culture (Routledge, 2002), and Contemporary Theatre Review , and she is currently completing a monograph, Staging Black Feminisms: Identity, Politics, Performance , which will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2007.

 

 

 

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