NPR recently posted about the upcoming spread a new adaption of Porgy and Bess, set to hit the NY Broadway scene in full force. While many views and reports from all sorts of leaders in the humanities have come out since this particular productions revisit by Writer Suzan-Lori Parks and musical adapter Deidre Murray- I have one statement alone on the subject- really? Come on I mean, Really?
What is it people? We think the coast is clear in American pop culture market to just bring up old shit? CAn we trully say there will ever be a moment in our history that its a good time to bring up Porgy and Bess? Its blackface, its a minstrel show, its one of the most degrading creations to ever hit the international world and shed light to various countries (especially Western European ones) just what its like supposedly to be black in America 1920s. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
No matter how many times people attempt to get to the purity of the original tale, it may never be found with such a track record of representing blacks in the most entertaining/demeaning way possible. It was a very popular opera, it was a very popular opera to a very specific audience. An as creative it may be, with wonderful songs and scripts and acting, the fact remains that its flat out misleading, in world where caricature is readily taken in as truth.
Obviously I dont agree with them bringing it up again, mainly because in this case nobody wins. White America gets to crushingly remember how much they used to love this genre of the happy Negro- “remember that? remember when Negros used to be happy? now their just cranky all the time.” And minorities get to once again revisit and revisit again the ways in which they are portrayed in entertainment and their frustrations with allowing themselves to be involved in productions like these which are the few moments that Many performers of color are allowed to show their talent and passion for theater. Sigh, this is making my head hurt.