Warning: Spoiler alert
If you’re not taking part in the seminar the reflections below will probably give the story away.
What a memorable experience to have read “Consecrated Ground” and to have had a chance to attend the session with George Boyd, particularly after having visited Halifax and Africville and having seen the documentaries about this yet another injustice and betrayal of the black people. In a matter of pages, George Boyd brings to life the experiences of Africville residents, their lives and concerns, as well as the huge amount of research that went into building a succinct, yet powerful and credible account of the personal, social, and political relationships that inform the dialogues, the actions and decisions of the people involved in a battle which they had already lost when their ancestors were forced into the ships of Middle Passage. I was deeply touched by the sense of dignity, humour and the intelligence of the characters but also of the author himself.
In addition, I was delighted to learn of Norman Cornett’s approach to learning: taking the time to live with the author as well as with the personal steps that each reader takes in dialoguing with the text and with others involved in the seminar and their lives instead of rushing through a pre-ordained syllabus of the “teaching” institutions that have no place for real life and for real experiences. Taking the time to really understand the other and to grow with our interlocutor in a dialogical relationship is a skill critical not only to reading, but to interacting with all forms of life.
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Writings on Consecrated Ground, read straight through from Act 1, Scene 10 to play’s conclusion
(Feb. 2011, Aretha)
Many details re the personalities of the various characters jump out in this last part of the play, details that suggest in some cases the evolution characters have undergone as a result of what has come to pass. The clues to change are often subtle, quiet, yet unmistakable & full of connotative value.
Tom Clancy appears the most openly changed, from his need for drink to assuage his conscience & his guilty confessions to the Reverend, right up to the gesture of crossing himself when the congregation is burying Tully’s casket – yes, a changed man, still labouring under the yoke of his personal heritage, yet aware, now, that as Aunt Sarah suggests indirectly, he is one of those players in a movie not really sure if the role he’s playing is for good or evil. I was interested in Clancy’s changes because they humanized him slightly – though he still came across as very weak, he also seemed someone slightly victimized in his own right – victimized by the way everything leading up to his taking the job of ridding the so-called “site” of blacks left him blind to the actual situation of Africville & of his bosses’ ulterior motives. The latter doesn’t really excuse him – as Aunt Sarah suggested, for example, Clancy could have, say, investigated the books on South African Townships in order to educate himself about the situations of Blacks under the malignant power mongering of racist whites – this he never found the time to do, what with his narrow focus on “getting the job done”, this in spite of his seemingly growing awareness of what tragic results “getting the job done” would result in. The little detail of Clancy marvelling over the registry of births & deaths in the community going back over more than a hundred years, together with his musings on how he doesn’t feel like laughing at dirty niggers, are not without purpose re how Clancy is to be perceived, the boy miserably coming into knowledge of what he would prefer to deny. I was struck when Clarice in Act 2, Scene 8 says to Clancy that she likes him – I mean I couldn’t decide if that was supposed to be sarcastic or not – slightly contemptuous, yes, confirmed by the dismissive description of him as a boy & not a man that follows, but were we supposed to believe Clarice meant it when she said she liked him??? The final gesture of Clancy crossing himself is so poignant, with the whole notion that Africville is consecrated ground finally being capitulated to ever so subtly but significantly. Marvellous writing between the lines in this play, no doubt about it, with the final scene a tour de force in relation to conveying a heart-rending sense of spiritual strength & hugely tragic loss simultaneously – the congregation including the Reverend avowing their allegiance to their God & their consecrated ground, even as the latter is condemned to be permanently desecrated – powerful stuff, powerful stuff…
Reading to the end of Consecrated Ground – Cobalt
Do I keep changing my perspective based on what I personally bring to the reading? For instance, reading about black/African history relating to periods of revolution, independence, civil wars, ethnic violence, slavery, makes me madder at white Europeans and consequently madder at the Halifax government of the 60s.
As Noam Chomsky says in the 2006 film Uganda Rising, “the psychology is transparent; when you’ve got your boot on somebody’s neck and you’re crushing them, you can’t say to yourself, I’m a son of a bitch and I’m doing it for my own benefit, you have to figure out some kind of way of saying that I’m doing it for their benefit.
This becomes the tone of Clancy towards the end of the play. He outlines the proposals to the residents, putting the spin on it that it’s in their best interests to relocate to the projects. Clancy seems to be a kind of scapegoat for the Halifax Government; something to strap all their prejudices, ignorance, and dirty work to and walk it into Africville. As sarah says “There’s thems in them movies that don’t know what kinda role they’s playin’” Perhaps everyone in the play is very confused and torn between ideas of solitudes, roles, meanings, progress, preserving cultures etc etc.
My emotive connection with the piece was latent and it was only as Tully dies did I get dragged into the story as I saw parallels with our family’s history of leaving things until it’s too late. The intensity of language and the rapid scene changes towards the end of the play transforms it into a very moving piece for me. It’s a strong counter to the slower pace at the beginning of the play. Each character has longer more passionate and feverish lines as hopes slide and reality keeps re-appearing.
Sarah compares knowledge with understanding as she talks about the library to Clancy. From this I think it follows that tolerance comes from being informed and that Ignorance leads to racism. Throughout the play we have the role of the church which in my view adds a hypocritical tension to the history/play. The role of the play seems to be to help promote tolerance and respect through education but then at the center of the community is the church, with principles, written into the holy text itself, of intolerance, bigotry and a closing of intellectual freedom, the opposite of a good education, where everyone is a sheep or the as the Reverend says a member of a “flock”.
There are the universal rights of people. But why does a black rising have to be centered on the church. Why is it through the black church leaders? Why does having Rev in front of you name command respect?
We’re still left with the challenging question of how do countries and cities manage the integration of immigrants, the integration of everyone for that matter a universal social inclusion? How do we protect their culture but also let them adopt our core values.
Act1, scenes 6-7
I liked the simplicity in scene six describing a complex political intrigue. The Halifax city was facing a strong and united black community. It would lead to serious problems if the planned expulsion of this district was done by force. Instead of an open confrontation, the city used the strategy of divide and conquer by separating members of the Africville community from their pastor. However, an initial conversation between a very young city employer and an experienced pastor was indicating a complete fiasco for the city’s plan. We saw how it was very easy for the experienced pastor to patronize the young town’s representative and expose the city’s unfair treatment of the Africville’s members, but at the end his big initial authority/power disappeared in one sentence. It happened after he asked for Clancy’s reassurance that the city will allow the church to stay.
His soul and clarity of thinking were already “broken” when he accepted this tricky town’s offer for the “church to stay”. At this moment, he forgot that ruled by him church had a deeper meaning. It was not only the building with him as a pastor, but also the united people acting together. At stake were their strong bonds developed by traditions, memories and never ending discrimination. He broke these bonds by accepting this poisonous bait and from here I see the most critical moment determining the end for Africville.
Scene seven represents typical description/recipe of social manipulations that can be used for any other situation. For example, instead of Africville we can see other groups of people or unions corrupted by money and power. Social manipulators know that they need firstly to corrupt some key members of the targeted community. In this case it was Jimmy, the richest person in this community as having permanent job: driver. He received $5000 for his house what probably was a relatively good deal 46 years ago and the priest was assured about not demolishing his church. It was enough for securing the city’s objectives at this meeting presented in scene 7. I felt depressed reading this scene, but my bad mood improved after reading Sarah’s comment: “if you lay down with dogs, you come with fleas” summarizing smartly the priest’s questionable role without offending him directly.
Writings for Consecrated Ground, page 48 to 53, Act 1, Scene 7 (Feb. 2011, Aretha)
Of course the church is the bedrock of the community’s soul, its spirituality, I was failing to realize that when I criticised the Reverend as being concerned “only” about the church, though I find what he says about living in town with all the amenities & as a tight knit group of neighbours slightly wishful thinking maybe? But a family – exactly – the folks of Africville are a family linked in the face of their religion, their ancestry, their affection for one another, there better selves. Clarice so fierce: I’m made to wonder what would happen if everyone had her commitment – errrrrrrrrrrrr – no – I guess the powerful whites would simply squish the blacks like so many flies, but physically as well as spiritually. I wish I could say I can’t fathom how a group of human beings could so mistreat other groups of human beings, but unfortunately not – witness the world today, the jails full of disenfranchised Aboriginals, far too many of the Aboriginals not in jails equally broken in spirit & living in poverty as their incarcerated tribal members are – I mention the Aboriginals because surely today they are the largest & most obvious example of peoples decimated by loss of culture here in Canada. As the playwright says in his opening note, money can never compensate for loss of a way of life, or not really. I do have to say that even though I admire Clarice’s strength, were it me I’d probably be among the ones in Africville tempted to sell in order to have some sort of chances like the ones Willem dreams of having. Then again, like Willem I’m not from Africville, don’t have that attachment going generations back. I guess regarding the Reverend, keeping the church would mean to him that Africville would live on in the must important sense of living on, at least for him…
Writings on Consecrated Ground, page 44 to 48, Act 1, Scene 6 (February 2011- Aretha)
I am surprised that the Reverend speaks of the city’s plans for Africville as “inevitable” – seems all the men in this community lack the will to fight for what is essential, at least essential to the women folk – that is, the preservation & improvement of the community. Of course it is understandable that such a disenfranchised people should trust nothing of what the whites say or promise since in all their experience the blacks have only been misused by the whites in power, misused brutally, treated as though they only have worth as servants of the whites, & left in squalor to eek out a miserable subhuman existence, at least in terms of basic survival needs. Such abuse! I guess the Reverend is being a realist, I just wish he had more fight in him. Tom Clancy, the naïve young man who understands little of the world, really comes across as dumb in this scene, showing his disjointed ambition in the process. Write a book, build a career indeed – the Reverend, who is wise about the world even if he lacks energy to fight for what’s right beyond ensuring the preservation of the church – the Reverend indirectly & directly warns Clancy that the latter is a pawn in his bosses’ game. Horrible to realize how blinkered we humans can be, interested in our own realities at the expense of fragile others. This play strikes me as a volatile jolt meaning to point out what many of us would like forgotten. Unfortunately, where human rights are concerned we have a long long long way to go – now as ever there are the have & have-nots, peoples losing their heritage, politicians trying to reduce everything to the slippery slope bottom line of the all mighty dollar. I am going to pass this play on to friends, make sure they read the playwright’s notes lest any of them think this could never have happened in the 1960s, or rather not in the 1960s in Canada…
Writings on Consecrated Ground, page 36 to 43, Act 1, Scene 5 (February 2011 – Aretha)
Listening in on Willem & Clarice, a loving couple with problems threatening to split them up. Again the woman appears stronger than the man, appears to have the power, as Clarice lets Willem know – i.e. her way or the highway – or so it seems. The interaction of Willem & Clarice is just a few steps from all out war, one being staged where the living situation they share has wedged a wall of potentially dangerous daggers between them. On one side there is Willem desiring more of a life than Africville can provide – namely a life with a proper house, a real job, a decent school for his child. On the other side there is Clarice believing Africville to be the best place possible in spite of the ghetto conditions, this because her roots are there, maybe even more importantly because love is there – for her child, herself, her husband. Clarice thinks of the future in terms of improving the life she lives without abandoning it – example, an add-on to the house to be built by the men in the community. Willem, on the other hand, is sick of Africville, more than ready to abandon the life he has to go toward something new with potential. Both in the couple are extremely proud, with pride playing particularly into Willem’s mindset as he makes very clear when he insinuates he’s not a “real” husband, someone who provides for his family & lives with dignity. It is interesting that the bond of sexuality the couple shares is deep & strong , comes to the foreground in their chatter even in the power keg of a situation they find themselves in now. The Elephant in the room is white power tightening chains of bondage to poverty & to lack of dignity. Both Willem & Clarice are really asking for the same thing – a good life – just believe what will ensure their having it are two different plans. I get that the tensions in this couple’s relationship can’t be explained by any explanation that leaves out the deterioration of Africville thanks to the machinations of the Whites – so devestating…
Writings on Consecrated Ground – page 30 to 36, Act 1, Scene 4 (Feb. 2011 – Aretha)
Places like Africville, including Africville, are actually much like the torn townships in South Africa – a sobering, grim, astutely tragic observation. Aunt Sarah with her “liberry” readings, her grade 3 schoolin, the fraught lessons of age, of tough living, of injustice picking at one’s dignity – Aunt Sarah Lied do you teach people in the community the ideas you fling here, in act 1, scene 4, at Clancy, a third shrewdly, a third weighted down by the blackest of humour, a final third frying the naivety of this rather blank young white man? Aunt Sarah of course you’re often teaching, maybe only intermittently, but it must ooze formless – that is, beyond specific words – via your own & life’s pores when you’re among the women, all of you weighing in on what’s alive, on the men folk, on children & the craven essential allotted you – dear Sarah is it enough to take aim breathing deeply – has it ever been consequentially enough? Baa baa stray sheep, you all get untimely lost – at what muttering cost, ruthless cost, spilling primal cost –
Tom Clancy wake up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Re-reading scenes (stream-of-consciousness reactions).
Act 1 Scene 4
I’m not sure. I’m not sure how much I’m convinced by the text today. I’ve seen video and heard voices. How ‘real’ is this dialogue?
Salvagers from Africville frequented the dump to look for building material. What is the history of the introduction of the dump to a spot of land adjacent to Africville. How much can we infer, how much we have to invent about the decision to place it there based on prejudices?
How did the majority Scottish descendants in Halifax see their relationship to Africville in comparison as England did to them in the centuries prior? And vice versa?
Why was the Africville land given to the black residents of Halifax? Was an industrial slavery the best life they could hope for when fleeing the 1812 war. How did other black integrate into Canada in comparison to Africville?
So many questions? Im really trying hard not to pass judgement on either party. I’m getting annoyed with myself for not fully understanding what happened. But then this is a problem that stemmed from monumentally historic events, slave trade, revolutionary wars, civil wars. None of this can be undone. The Liberia project, from my limited reading so far, seems to have failed.
Act 1 Scene 5
What is the craft behind writing good dialogue? Is it to carry the story forward, to provide space, to provide form, to add context and content? It wants to be everything but is it realistic? Is this how people talk and converse? If not, why not? How does one go about constructing a ‘false’ dialogue? Is it a quick process or a slow process? Does a small edit to a line explode the amount of other things you have to edit for the continuity of the text to still make sense?
What are the simplest of elements we can distil from this? The man is focused, wanting space, wanting to move out of Africiville. The woman is proud, wanting to be loved, wanting attention, wanting change, but for change to occur to Africville.
Is this the most realistic way to capture this? Would making the play more abstract or poetic take away from the seriousness of the play? Is the play to be enjoyed too? Is it supposed to be funny? Is the play purely a didactic/protest piece?
How different would this play look if it was a novel or a story? Would there be more possibilities? Is a play the best way to express such issues? Is this the right play styling?
Act 1 Scene 6
Clancy seems to be a caricature; the white stereotypes of racism, career-seeking, ignorance, selfishness, impatience, are all placed into his being. White people are thoroughly dehumanised throughout the text. Is there an element of racism breeding racism? Is the playwright playing on these stereotypes or the ignorance of either party?
What are they referring to when the Rev says “It rather seems that the city was of the opinion that the performance of you duties left something to be desired”.
Why he is also happy to let Africville be razed as long as the church stays. He isn’t representing the community; he’s protecting his job only.
Act 1 Scene 7
As Sarah says “if you lay down with dogs, you come up with fleas”. She might be thinking of how the Rev. has sold out the community, how he hasn’t protected their interests but purely his own.
I’m starting to wonder if everyone is a caricature? Do the 7 in the play represent the 600 of Africville and the many thousands of residents of Halifax.
Writings on Consecrated Ground page 7 to 30 read straight through (Feb. 2011, Aretha)
Consecrated ground, holy turbulent, power play & ins & outs of remaining fierce, proud – Black History Month & all the diving into & out of deficient possibility. Back when I went to elementary school there was no such thing as Black History Month, no education re what was going on prejudicially on my own continent, in my own country concerning African North Americans caught in cutting wires of derision, of hatred, of flak paternalism – of injustice, cruelty, misunderstanding, brutalism. & here I am, reading of a history I only heard about round age 20, & only in passing at that, having to do with dark tidal dismissal washing over a disenfranchised people. Sarah you lived hardy regardless of injustice – Groovey was that the only possibility offered you, & regardless, were you a presence with a big cuddly heart – Clarisse is it because you’ve lived honestly the other options just aren’t options – Willem when if ever did you realize there were few open plans for you to insert yourself into – Double-speak, how to get to the bull’s eye if only a crooked path ever flares up, static though hopeful, in front of you? Tully what ever became of you?????????
I am in a spin of shame for humanity as a whole – not just whites though here in the throws of this fictionalized account it appears we need to acknowledge it is the whites. The hurt lift of a disadvantaged people into the dead light of a dead star of meanness – see love dehydrated, see the given torched, hear the voices of the gutter-plunged drowned out like life lived well was never an option for them, hear the pinging of nasty stones off the backs of victim skulls, victim throats, victim bodies. I am reading a play that should be read by many. It feels as though the reality the play is grounded in has been buried irretrievably. I would love to see this play produced again, maybe on tv so that it gets to people all over the country. Sarah as matriarch have you always protected as well as criticized the patriarchs? Who made Willem a man without an easy future (I guess we know). Life I want to butt heads with hatred, if only to shift weight from one innocent shoulder to a guilty one. Why must there always be pain in the face of what one has done against another & now refuses to admit? It’s a long way to forgiveness, forgiveness is necessary – a long way to acknowledging wrongdoing, acknowledging is necessary – touché…
Writings on Consecrated Ground – page 26 to 30, Act 1, scene 3 (Feb. 2011 Aretha)
In act 1, scene 3, the abuse of the fragile black by insensitive brutal whites – Groovey who believes in a white knight coming to save her; Willem, witnessing the beating Groovey took at the hands of some white man, talking of being sick & tired of the position he & his community are in, of suffering because of what the whites do; Clarisse tending to the bloodied Groovey & seemingly angry at Willem for choosing to try to talk sense to Groovey at what is really a poor choice of time. The community of Africville, soon to be no more, for the moment have more than their share of hardships (understatement). The tensions seething through this play are heating up to the point where I am unhappily anticipating things going from bad to worse & worse again. On the lip of a destructive destiny, some of the fictional characters are coming into introductory focus – how hard it is to think that this fictional account is rooted in an actual event…
Writings on Consecrated Ground – page 20 to 26, including Act 1, scene 2
(Feb. 2011 – Aretha)
The appropriation has begun! At the moment only Double-speak & Willem are in the know, Double-speak because he has been approached by Clancy & accepted 5000 dollars for his place, & Willem because Double-speak has revealed what was supposed to be a secret. Willem apparently likes the idea of being able to sell a piece of Africville, but unlike Sarah, his wife Clarisse & Double-speak, Willem was not born & raised in Africville. Projects – I remember the projects near where I lived as a child. They were extremely rundown filled with people on welfare, a kind of ghetto though with the amenities the people in Africville lack, & neither next door to a dump nor plagued by rats. The way Double-speak talks of not wanting to leave Africville suggests that like the women we met in the first act, Double-speak feels the place is very much home. I am wondering if Clancy is going to be offering everyone 5000 dollars for their places, & whether many will be unwilling to sell. In the first act Clarisse transferred her land to Willem legally – is this going to lead to Willem selling the place? Stay tuned, Stay tuned…
Writings on Consecrated Ground, from page 7 to 20, including Playwright’s Note, Set & Setting, Character list, & Act one, scene one (Feb. 2011, Aretha)
The playwright’s notes plus the information regarding set & setting provide guiding context for digesting the first scene, even as they will for the play as a whole. Act 1 scene 1 introduces the three feisty woman characters – Sarah the matriarch, Clarisse the mother & wife, Groovy the “loose” woman. What comes through this scene is the sense of humour all three women share: be they talking about serious or light subjects, always the quips ricocheting through the lively dialogue, & this in spite of, or as part of, the knotty problematic of their situations in the world. The latter is an impoverished community where love may be part of the fabric of being, but nevertheless concrete amenities such as plumbing & clean drinking water are nowhere to be found. At this early point in the play, the women are unaware that they are soon to be displaced from Africville, Africville being the only place where Sarah & Clarrise have ever lived. Judging from their interactions, the women are likely to be less than happy about having to relocate, regardless of the dire poverty at issue where they now are, less than happy because Africville, for all its problems, seemingly remains a tight knit community that affords a tough but appreciated way of life, or not so much appreciated as believed in…
On re-reading pg 1-30 of Consecrated Ground by George Boyd – Cobalt
Between reading the first 3 scenes and reading them again I’ve watched a few NFB videos – Remember Africville, Encounter at Kwacha House, Speak it! From the Heart of Black Nova Scotia and Black Soul.
Remember Africville has very strong imagery and quickly replaced the building picture I had in my mind from reading the play. There were many pictures and videos of, for example; the well, church, and a baptism in the Bedford basin. In one scene an older black gentlemen describes to an Africville Inquiry that on his first trip to Halifax in 1957, “where the pavement ended, Africville began”. Holding a photograph of Africville looking beautiful with flowers he said. “I did not see the flowers”. The people in the video were extremely proud of the community, they paid their taxes and didn’t get anything back.
Encounter at Kwacha House is a filmed debate in 1967 between black and white youths at the interracial club in Halifax. People put forward their experiences of not being able to find jobs, being discouraged to rent white property by having to sign 4 year leases and discus the pressure white employers would come under from other whites if they hired a black man. They discuss implementing civil disobedience, economic boycotts of certain shops. One man said Martin Luther King was just “another white Liberal” and that they needed to look to Malcolm X for inspiration. Accents of the people, mainly black men, who spoke in the debate ranged from a softened southern US, to a softened Caribbean, to a neutral anglo-Canadian accent. They spoke well and didn’t have the same vernacular as the Consecrate Ground characters. They seemed better educated and more aware of the issues than Jimmy “double-speak” for example.
Speak it! was made in 1992 and shows black highs school students fighting racism, institutionalised racism, wondering why they weren’t taught about black history and organising a march to express their concerns and making a play to find an identity.
Black soul has a similar theme as the play created in Speak it!, searching for identity, meaning, and ancestry. The aesthetics of the painted animation are quite stunning though it has a different impact compared to the other documentaries. Art can be used as an outlet for all manner of thoughts. How does Consecrated Ground sit as piece of art? Again we come back to the question of the role between art and education.
I have never studied Black Histories, read books or even watched a movie pertaining to this topic. I only feel close to black people after experiencing their emanating internal warmth soon after my arrival to NYC. At that time, I was a penniless fresh immigrant coming from communist Poland and worked hard with many black people in small companies exploiting the poorest communities. It seems that as a typically discriminated immigrant, I had a better chance to understand some psychological aspects of intolerance permanently experienced by the colored people living in so called “white civilization”. What stroked me was the black people’s openness, sense of humor and friendliness what was making much easier for me to survive in this probably one of the toughest American cities. It was really like working with family members. Exactly the same atmosphere/climate radiates from page one to 26 that I already read in “Consecrated Ground” by George Boyd. I am anxious to read the next pages, but I am not allowed yet while attending Dr. Cornett’s seminars – haha!
What also impressed me was a warm treatment of Groovey in scene three by the members of Africville’s community. It is absolutely different how the majority of religious white people (no matter if Catholic, Protestant or Muslim) would treat such lost women deeply inside their societies. In the most ‘soft’ cases it would be described as a multidimensional ostracism. The Africville people were also religious but acted differently and were absolutely far from judging Groovey. Instead of being rejected, she felt included and was only somehow patronized as a naïve younger sister who needed more of encouraging words as mental support. At the same time nobody suggested involving police what resonances today with still existing negative opinions about this formation known for racial profiling.
The scene three inspired me for this conclusion: Why not treat lessons from Black Histories as inspiration for Multicultural Futures in Globalizing World with an emerging class of a few richest trying to play role of former aristocracy when pauperizing majority in each day more prevailed materialistic reality where money rules. The most impressive in Black History was maintaining the highest respect for other members of their community and paying less attention to materialistic “achievements”. This approach made more difficult intoxicating human minds for social manipulators. If generations of black people were able to survive so many oppressions and are still singing together happy gospel songs, it means that we can also learn how to survive with dignity this growing terror of money and domination/arrogance in the emerging Globalville.
Rock & Roll
Response to Consecrated Ground by George Boyd(pg 7 – 20, act 1 scene 2) – Cobalt
The start of buying the land from the residents of Africville, the first step in shutting down the community and trying to put the residents into social housing. I don’t know what 5000 dollars represents in 1960s Halifax, I’m sure it isn’t much though; just enough to tempt the residents of Africville to take it. Jimmy seems to not understand the consequences of what he did in signing the contract. This suggests which is perhaps obvious from the outset, that the education level in the community is low.
Response to Consecrated Ground by George Boyd(pg 7 – 20, includes playwright’s note, set and setting, characters and act 1 scene 1) – Cobalt
I read the introduction and set design passages to myself and then read to the first scene of the play out loud. It establishes Sarah as a strong woman, the matriarch of the community, for example as she says assuredly, “I been all ya mommas”, to Clarice.
This scene is busily adding context to the play. It establishes the atmosphere of africville very quickly as a close community, with a strong community leader in Sarah. They fish for lobster the poor man’s food, dream of store cards at shops in the city center and have to boil water before drinking. Africville is full of rats due to the dump and the government is something to dislike or ignore all together.
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