Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Green Pastures by Marc Connelly (1930)

Summary:  In the first scene, children in a “negro church” are asking typical children-at-Sunday-School questions, concerning why God decided to create the world.  Their teacher gives them typical “I don’t know, read the Bible” answers.   In the next scene, God is in Heaven, lamenting his boredom and decides to create man and the world.  The next thirteen scenes follow God and man’s interactions from The Garden of Eden to Noah to Moses to the eventual crucifixion of Christ.

Thoughts:  In the spirit of Rice's Street Scene, I found myself having to read much of this play aloud because it is written in “typical negro dialect.”  The play is full of sentences like, “An’ you better take an’ git married an’ settle down an’ raise some chillun.  Dey ain’t nothin’ to make a man fo’git his troubles like raisin’ a family.  Now, you better git” and “You got two bad lookin’ eyes.  I bet yo’ hot coffee ‘mong de women folks” (402, 403).

While the play was written by a white male and much of the dialogue is stereotypically problematic, I was intrigued and appeased (?) to discover that this was the first play on Broadway with an entirely black cast.  I wasn’t always thrilled to be reading it, but now I am very interested in the play’s production history, audience reception and critical reviews.

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