That’s the starting point of Sentiment Is For Audiences …

‘The original Black minstrel performances not only entertained Black people, but made life tolerable for Black slaves in the USA by ridiculing, through the use of (satire and) comic irony, the White slave owner, the key figure in the system that caused their oppression.Touring white comedians who had experienced the song, dance and mime of slaves on plantations, copied, appropriated and vulgarized elements and created the minstrel show for an only white audience. The performers blackened their faces with burnt cork and wore frizzy wigs. The symbolic language and the satirical effect of the model were ignored as characteristics of African American behavior were distorted and soon became popular stereotypes. In 1865, (after the civil war and the abolition of slavery), the first minstrel troupe made up entirely of African American performers was founded. The company blackened up in the manner of their white counterparts, introducing the phenomenon of black performers masking themselves with blackface. By the time black face minstrels began performing in the 1860’s, the stereotypes developed by preceding white performers were so set that if the black performers wanted to hold their audience they had to conform with them. African American performers wore fright wigs, painted grotesque lips, and blackened up.’

Quotation: Beatrix Taumann, Strange Orphans, 1999

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