Not 'In-Yer-Face' But What Lies Beneath: Experiential and Aesthetic Inroads in the Drama of debbie tucker green and Dona Daley

Osborne, Deirdre. 2007. Not 'In-Yer-Face' But What Lies Beneath: Experiential and Aesthetic Inroads in the Drama of debbie tucker green and Dona Daley. In: R. Victoria Arana, ed. Black British Aesthetics Today. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 222-242. ISBN 978-1-8471-8116-9 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

In 1991, Jatinder Verma stated, “If there is going to be any point in using the term ‘black theatre’, it has to find a theatrical form for itself […] you must dig deeper to get at the truth.”; whilst Felix Cross has asserted “it is only when black theatre develops something white theatre doesn’t have that it will have the power and influence to move forward.” What then are the criteria whereby the merits of indigenous black theatre are to be included and evaluated in British theatre history?

The theorisation (and claims for a Black British aesthetic) which has developed in relation to music and less so to popular culture, film, television and literature requires parallel research and application to the circumstances of theatre and performance. As this paper explores, there are changing definitions of blackness in relation to dramatic literature and theatre in Britain which require separate consideration from that of prose and poetry. It is furthermore problematic to contrive the possibility of a uniquely Black British aesthetic in plays which have been primarily laced to all-pervasive social-realism in order to get staged in the first place. I argue that the inroads surely reside in the experiential slipstream produced in staging such drama (and one in which women writers play a key role) as ethnicities and experiences who may not otherwise meet are directly exposed to each other’s cultural practices. Black drama exposes mainstream (predominantly white) theatre-goers to aspects of black British cultural input that is as indigenous to contemporary British cultural identity as that provided by white playwrights.
In the new millennium where white men still clearly dominate the theatrical terrain, the staging of Black British women’s drama still remains at best, rare. Debbie Tucker Green and Dona Daley distinctively dramatise articulations of the experientially uncharacteristic in British theatre. They produce sustained experimentation with form, style and subject matter to assert black experience as universal. Whilst Daley employs unqualified naturalism in her dramatisation of the mundane intimacies that weave lives together (using patois throughout), Tucker Green blows this apart with a blitz on the comfort zones of theatrical realism both in terms of linguistic creativity, verbal freefall and taboo topics. Adding to the established legacy of Winsome Pinnock, Trish Cooke and Zindika, Daley and Tucker Green provide further evidence to the key ways in which women dramatists articulate sensibilities and perspectives arising from their positions within culture and theatre that are distinct from those of their male contemporaries.

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Book Section

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Theatre and Performance (TAP)



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Date Deposited:

12 Mar 2009 15:41

Last Modified:

21 Feb 2022 09:36


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