"Roll yo' hips—don't roll yo' eyes": Angularity and Embodied Spectatorship in Zora Neale Hurston's Play, "Cold Keener."

Cayer, Jennifer A.
March 2008
Theatre Journal;Mar2008, Vol. 60 Issue 1, p37
Academic Journal
As a student of Franz Boas, Zora Neale Hurston's performative response to her anthropological training is uniquely situated between theatre and anthropology. This essay focuses on her work as a playwright and lifelong pursuits in the theatre. It argues how Hurston's continual reworking of the relationship between the performer and spectator via a unique angular dramatic structure—derived from a broad repertoire of visual art and dance and characterized by sudden shifts in theme and audience perspective—was an attempt to solve a growing uneasiness with the authoritative elements of her own ethnographic practice. The essay analyzes how angularity operates on the levels of theme, staged space, and perspective in "Cold Keener"; explores her relationship to both Harlem Renaissance and contemporary critical interlocutors; provides a brief history of Hurston's theatrical aspirations and actual work in the New York theatre; and suggests the ways in which theatre is a natural outgrowth of her work as a folklorist and is a significant aesthetic intervention.


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