Trickle down effect: the 1911/1912 Abbey Theatre tour of America and its impact on early African American theatre
This thesis will examine the direct and indirect impact the Irish National theatre had upon American theatre in general and the African American theatre in particular. It discusses the relationship between the Irish theatrical movement during the Irish Literary Renaissance and the drama that was produced during the Harlem Renaissance. To do this Rorty’s concepts of the ‘strong poet’ and ‘ironist’ will be utilized. The bleeding and cross contamination of culture, it is contended, was due to the American tour that the Irish Players undertook in 1911/12. The tour, although staged in white theatre houses and attended by a mainly white audience, had a sizeable impact on the American theatrical landscape. This thesis will chart the course of this change, from the tour through to the beginnings of the Harlem Renaissance. From the Abbey Theatre to the Little Theatre movement and from there to the African American theatre a continuous thread of de-reification, of cultural awakenings is established. In essence, the source of the African American theatre, both the Artistic stylings and hopes of Alain Locke and the propaganda aspirations of W.E.B. DuBois will be referred back to the Irish tour.