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Thu, 10.24.1935

‘Mulatto'(The Play) Debuts on Broadway

*On this date in 1935 Mulatto: A Tragedy of the Deep South had its Broadway debut.  

This was a play about race issues by Langston Hughes. Martin Jones produced it, and it ran for 11 months and 373 performances.  It was one of the earliest Broadway plays to combine father-son conflict with race issues.

Historian Joseph McLaren noted that the play was popular with audiences because they were intrigued by the tragic mulatto theme.  Critics, however, were more negative, perhaps partly because director/producer Martin Jones altered much of the plot, moving the play away from tragedy and into melodrama.  

Melinda D. Wilson noted that Jones's addition of a rape scene may have helped sell tickets but also may have reinforced stereotypes of violent and promiscuous Blacks, the kinds of stereotypes that Negro and Mulatto writers of the time were trying to stamp out.  Literary scholar Germain J. Bienvenu argued that the play also examines the ways Negro/Mulatto people of the time held prejudices against other Negro/Mulattoes.  

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Sitting here alone, in peace With my private sadness Bared of the acquirements Of the mind’s eye Vision reversed, upended, Seeing only the holdings Inside the walls of me, Feeling the roots that bind me, To this... PRIVATE SADNESS by Bob Kaufman.
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