The Blacks



  • A play by Jean Genet. Described by the author as "a clown show", it is a leading example of the Theatre of Cruelty.The Blacks was first produced in 1959 in Paris, opening two years laterin London and New York, where it enjoyed a long run.

    Genet uses a violent play-within-a-play to explore the nature of racial intolerance. From an upper level, a group of Whites (Black actors wearing masks or make-up) watch a group of Blacks below performing their ritual dances. A Black master of ceremonies, Archibald Absolom Wellington, introduces a drama inwhich Blacks rape and ritually murder a White woman. When news arrives that Blacks everywhere are rising up against Whites, the Black players kill and mutilate the White audience on the platform. The dead Whites then get up to join the Blacks, and Archibald preaches on the foolishness of racial hatred. The actors finally depart for hell.