The Blacks (play)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Blacks: A Clown Show (Les Nègres) is a play by the French dramatist and novelist Jean Genet. Published in 1958, it was first performed in a production directed by Roger Blin at the Théatre de Lutèce in Paris, opening on the 28th October, 1959.

If a prefatory note, Genet specifies the performance conditions under which he anticipates the play would be performed, revealing his characteristic concern with the politics and ritual of theatricality:

"This play, written, I repeat, by a white man, is intended for a white audience, but if, which is unlikely, it is ever performed before a black audience, then a white person, male or female, should be invited every evening. The organizer of the show should welcome him formally, dress him in ceremonial costume and lead him to his seat, preferably in the first row of the orchestra. The actors will play for him. A spotlight should be focused upon this symbolic white throughout the performance.
But what if no white person accepted? Then let white masks be distributed to the black spectators as they enter the theater. And if the blacks refuse the masks, then let a dummy be used."

The Blacks was, after The Balcony, the second of Genet's plays to be staged in New York. The production was the longest-running Off-Broadway non-musical of the decade. This 1961 New York production opened on the 4th May at the St Marks Playhouse and ran for 1,408 performances. It was directed by Gene Frankel, with sets by Kim E. Swados, music by Charles Gross, and costumes and masks by Patricia Zipprodt. The original cast featured James Earl Jones as Deodatus, Roscoe Lee Browne as Archibald, Louis Gossett, Jr. as Edgar, Cicely Tyson as Stephanie, Godfrey Cambridge as Diouf, Maya Angelou as the Queen and Charles Gordone as the Valet.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Blacks (play)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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