Robert_Thompson_Obi_Paper

Robert_Thompson_Obi_Paper - 17 December 2007 Professor...

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17 December 2007 Professor Rangarajan ENG 4038 Obi -Revamped “But if White man kind massa be / He heal the wound in Negro’s heart” (220). The quote from John Fawcett’s Obi, or Three-Finger’d Jack: A Serio – Pantomime, in Two Acts demonstrates the overbearing theme of power present between the slave overseer and the slaves in the Obi pantomime. The dominating discourse of the performance is the dogmatic following of the slaves to their kind master. Although they are horribly oppressed, removed from their home, and forced to work as slaves - if the master is kind, the slave is happy. There is an absurd element that coincides with the discourse and for this reason the modern staging of Obi, or Three-Finger’d Jack: A Serio – Pantomime, in Two Acts should be performed in an isolated box and with human actors playing marionettes. The actors surround a bonfire in a pagan ritual almost worshipping the overseer who is the puppet master above instructing and calmly manipulating his slaves through his verse. The pantomime depends on the elements of spectacle and Bertolt Brecht’s “Verfremdungseffekt” or “alienation effect.” The lines and songs of John Fawcett’s Obi, or Three-Finger’d Jack: A Serio – Pantomime, in Two Acts are kept intact for a modern staging of Obi. Some elements and lines are removed, but the pantomime remains intact to discuss the overbearing discourse of domination. Instead of the sixteen scenes suggested by Fawcett in his version of the pantomime, only one stage is necessary within the pantomime. The scene will appear to be a puppet show surrounding a bonfire at night. The bonfire represents a pagan ritual
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because all of the slaves sing in unison and agreement to their overseer emphasizing when the master is kind, the Negro is happy throughout the pantomime. A dogmatic practice is performed when principles that are believed to be absolutely true are followed (dictionary.com). The slaves are duped into their pagan practice by the act of forcibly removing them from their home and making them believe in the idea that they are happy because their master is kind. The cast hangs from visible ropes controlled by the suspended hands of the overseer. The actors move in extremely over-emphasized movements to accurately depict their puppet-like movements. They are suspended like puppets because they are all subscribing to the Overseer’s ideas and agree with them.
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