Things just keep heating up at The A La Carte with another great evening of dialogue. The participants were asked to define the characteristics of Traditional theater vs. Urban theater. Most really couldn’t define the characteristics because we discovered that we were talking about two extremely different things.
Rashida Shaw, PHD Candidate at Northwestern University (Theater Performance Study and former New York actress) shared her thoughts on the history of the “Chitlin’ Circuit” and explained that we are talking more about aesthetic. The Chitlin’ Circuit plays are considered gospel musicals. Their origin begain the the 1960s and 70s with plays like “Your Arms are too Short to Box with God,” “Momma I want to Sing,” “Purlie Victorious,” and many more. These plays got their start in one of the most revered theater companies in the country, The Negro Ensemble Company.
Adrian Dunn and Byron Jones of Hopera World, The Chronicles of a Fallen Hero, shared their thoughts on why Tyler Perry is important and relevant. Mr. Jones wants to do contemporary stories and agrees with the way Tyler Perry approaches his theater and appreciates Mr. Perry’s commitment to producing contemporary stories.
This ignited huge uproar about the “standard” of acting and the level of achievement. Many actors with education from University institutions were angered by the idea that Tyler Perry “type” of plays are considered the standard. They wanted to be respected for their contribution and receive the dividends that many non-trained actors receive. Ms. Shaw never let us straw away from the notion that Tyler Perry “type” of plays are in a different genre and their supporters are different therefore, we can’t be upset that the audiences members going to see his plays should come and see ours.
There were supporters of Tyler Perry that defended his efforts to get audience members to come and see theater. Ms. Shaw also mentioned that the caliber of Mr. Perry’s work is “getting better.” He includes information about health issues in the black community and that it’s a step into the right direction. She did mention that the characters that he uses are stereotypical, one-dimensional characters. Someone mentioned that Mr. Perry has to fully develop his audience, he must challenge himself to be more accountable for how he portrays his characters.
So what are your thoughts? Why do we get so angry at Tyler Perry? Are we justified? Is he “taking” our audience? Share your thoughts!
Adrian Dunn’s Chronicles of a Fallen Hero