“…Although the play takes place within the Black community, the themes of alcoholism, parental
abuse, and self abuse are universal themes and that is the author’s intent— to show universality.
-Dael Orlandersmith, Playwright of “Yellowman”
In Mikell Pinkney’s On the Historical Development of African American Dramatic
Theory; or, The Roots of Black Theatre Aesthetics, the reader is introduced to the dramaturgical
criteria for “serious” African American theatre which is that it is: about us, by us, for us, and near
us. These four tenants were introduced by W.E.B. Dubois and used to assess dramatic pageants
of his time and have steadily been used as a basis for African American modern ...view middle of the document...
Dael Orlandersmith, an female African American actress,poet,
and playwright distinguishes her voice with distinction. She wrote of her work, "There is a theme
throughout the work that I write...about childhood and the sins of the father, the sins of the
mother, and how people take on the very thing they don’t like about their parents and they
Yellowman takes place in 1960s South Carolina in the cross hairs of the Gullah/Geechie
community. The story follows the two characters, Eugene, a fair skinned African American male
and Alma, large dark skinned Gullah/Geechie woman and their relationships within their family
and how they shaped their reality. Yellowman isn't the first play to take off on bigotry and selfhatred within a prejudiced against group. Long before black became beautiful and Negroes
renamed themselves Blacks and then African-Americans, the term "high yellow" served to
deepen the gulf between people of dark and lighter skin colors. Pinkney mentions that DuBois
felt that the Negro people were “essentially musical, artistic, humble, and jocular.” Through
Orlandersmith’s writing her prowess as a lyricist and musician is beaconed to the...