Continuity in the African and the Black Diaspora Performance Traditions:

Topics: Black people, White people, Jean Genet Pages: 6 (2336 words) Published: May 5, 2009
Continuity in the African and the Black Diaspora Performance Traditions: How do two very similar books, The Screens and Dream On Monkey Mountain operate within the Mask code on comparatively and distinctively through the Primary/Secondary and Tertiary levels, respectively? How does the intent of the author affect the way the Mask is portrayed and if it is necessary in a literal or figurative sense? Derek Walcott’s Dream on Monkey Mountain and Jean Genet The Screens utilizes the dramaturgic code of the Mask that metaphorically translates the intent of the author into the vacillating movements between life and death, good and evil and the fragility of the racial divide. Both books act on the mask, The Screens more literally than Dream on Monkey Mountain. Though both books can be categorized as existentialist, the author of Dream on Monkey Mountain, Derek Walcott, anticipates a closer connection to the racial essence of the complications of identity. Jean Genet’s The Screens, also connects to race, placing his ideas during the Algerian War between Arabs and Whites, yet as an outsider of his own race, sympathizes with those unlucky total outcasts: minorities (in this sense, people outside of the white race). The commitment to the mask code is translated through the secondary and tertiary phases, for The Screens and the Dream on Monkey Mountain respectively. I dare to deeply explore the many levels of the mask code in respond to the primary/secondary and tertiary level comparatively and distinctively throughout Genet’s The Screens and Walcott’s Dream on Monkey Mountain. The mask code is a code, not unlike the mimetic code, in that these codes are literary tools that have been passed down within the literary continuum. The mimetic translates as copy, largely realistic, presentational style and dependency on action, linear, and set within a historic time and follows individual(s) psychological exploration of character development. Character development relates to events or situations, and actors may assume other masks and play other worlds, and quite literally masks exist whether through makeup or actual masks to denote the change of a character (Class notes 4/24). The mask code is like the mimetic but still delves further than the illusionary or representational. The mask code opts for ancestral energy, dead energy that always exists and submits the actor to those powers. Practically spiritual, the mask code is transcendent and deeply invested in metamorphosis, unrealistic stories, multidimensional simultaneous existences, and ancestral time (Class notes 4/24). Jean Genet’s The Screens is an existentialist drama set during the Algerian War. The play features a list of more than 50 characters; actors would be required to play about five or six of them each. Character design specifies a need that the actors will be masked or excessively made up to contrast the realistic tones of their costumes. Guidelines set by the mimetic code for this French play have already broken into mask code territory. The presence of the mask here indicates a highly unrealistic visual situation. Characters are expected to transmit several different faces, therefore several different personalities, variations between the masks exist and symbolically between attitudes. What story is being perpetuated by the presence of the mask? In this European text, the mask responds to the Primary level of Transformation. The mask is at its most literal point. As costume, the mask is necessary to the completion of the traditions of stage props. Having masks or excessive make up on is not highly unusual in this theme. Japanese Kabuki Theater utilizes masks throughout their plays as well. However, here the masks become representational of the mimetic code. The mimetic code is farthest away from the mask code, therefore farthest away from the Transformative levels so it exists on a primary level. The primary level is developed during the Apidan...

Cited: Genet, Jean. The Screens. New York: Grove Press, 1910.
Walcott Derek. Dream on Monkey Mountain and Other Plays. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1970.
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