Toussaint Louverture: The Story of the Only Successful Slave Revolt in History

Toussaint Louverture: The Story of the Only Successful Slave Revolt in History is a three-act play about Toussaint L'Ouverture, the leader of the Haitian Revolution (21 August 1791 – 1 January 1804), written by C. L. R. James in 1934.[1][2] In March 1936, the play was staged for two performances in the Westminster Theatre in London's West End by the Stage Society, a private club, to avoid Theatres Act censorship laws. It was directed by Peter Godfrey and starred Paul Robeson in the title role, as well as Orlando Martins as Dutty Boukman, Robert Adams as Jean-Jacques Dessalines and Harry Andrews.[3][4] It was the first time black professional actors featured in a production written by a black playwright in the UK.[5] The play had been presumed lost until its rediscovery of a draft copy in 2005 by historian Christian Høgsbjerg.[5] The play was published for the first time in 2013 by Duke University Press, with a foreword by Laurent Dubois and an introduction by Christian Høgsbjerg. Toussaint Louverture is perhaps the last major piece of James's work to be published.

Toussaint Louverture: The Story of the Only Successful Slave Revolt in History
AuthorC. L. R. James
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
SubjectHaitian Revolution
GenreTheatre

C. L. R. James went on to write the classic history of the Haitian Revolution, the book The Black Jacobins, in 1938.

In 1967, James completely revised his play with the help of Dexter Lyndersay, and his new play, The Black Jacobins, has been performed internationally subsequently, including a radio adaptation broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 13 December 1971, with Earl Cameron as Toussaint.[6]

This second play about the Haitian Revolution, The Black Jacobins, became the first production of the Talawa Theatre Company in 1986, directed by Yvonne Brewster and starring Norman Beaton in the title role, coinciding with the overthrow of Baby Doc Duvalier as president of Haiti.[7][8] In 2019, the book Making the Black Jacobins, written by Rachel Douglas, examined James's lifetime writing and rewriting of the Haitian Revolution as history and drama.[9]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Toussaint Louverture: The Story of the Only Successful Slave Revolt in History; A Play in Three Acts, Duke University Press, 2013.
  2. ^ "Toussaint L'Ouverture By CLR James", Black Plays Archive, National Theatre.
  3. ^ C. L. R. James, Toussaint Louverture: The Story of the Only Successful Slave Revolt in History – A Play in Three Acts (edited and with an introduction by Christian Høgsbjerg), Duke University Press, 2013.
  4. ^ Gaverne Bennett, "Book Review: Toussaint Louverture by C.L.R. James", LSHG Newsletter # 49 (May 2013).
  5. ^ a b McLemee, Scott (20 February 2013). "Revolution on Stage". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 4 September 2020. Review of C.L.R. James, Toussaint Louverture: The Story of the Only Successful Slave Revolt in History. A Play in Three Acts (Duke University Press), ed. Christian Høgsbjerg.
  6. ^ "The Monday Play | The Black Jacobins", BBC Radio 4, 13 December 1971. Listings, Radio Times, Issue 2509, p. 33.
  7. ^ "The Black Jacobins | Talawa Theatre Company - 21st February 2019".
  8. ^ Yvonne Brewster, "Directing The Black Jacobins", Discovering Literature: 20th century, The British Library, 7 September 2017.
  9. ^ Rachel Douglas, Making the Black Jacobins: C.L.R. James and the Drama of History at Duke University Press, September 2019.

Further reading / External linksEdit