Staging Blackness

Representations of Race in German-Speaking Drama and Theater

Subjects: German Studies, Theater and Performance
Paperback : 9780472056248, 342 pages, 10 b&w illustrations, 6 x 9, May 2024
Hardcover : 9780472076246, 342 pages, 10 b&w illustrations, 6 x 9, May 2024
Open Access : 9780472903566, 342 pages, 10 b&w illustrations, 6 x 9, May 2024
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Examining how Blackness has been historically staged in German theater and how it should be represented today

Table of contents

Priscilla Layne & Lily Tonger-Erk
Centuries of Staging Blackness in Germany: An Introduction
I: Black Figures. Race-ing the Canon
Wendy-Lou Sutherland
“Looking at the Overlooked”: The Table as Global Stage in Karl Gotthelf Lessing’s “Die Mätresse” (1780)
Sigrid G. Köhler
Black Revolution – Or: Reflection of History in Tragedy. Resistance and Slavery as Theme in Popular German-language Theater (1775-1810)
Irmtraud Hnilica
Monostatos’ Longing: Staging Blackness in Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”
Franziska Bergmann
Economies of Compassion and Skin Color in Friedrich Schiller’s “Fiesco’s Conspiracy at Genoa” (1783)
Lily Tonger-Erk
Staging Whiteness: Race and Aesthetics in Schiller’s “The Robbers” and Antù Romero Nunes’ 2012–2013 Production
Norbert Otto Eke
Blackness in Heiner Müller’s Imaginary
II: Black Performance and Practices of Blackfacing 
Jeff Bowersox
Blackface and Black Faces on German and Austrian Stages, 1847-1914
Evelyn Annuß
Racisms and Representation. Staging Defacement in Germany Contextualized
Jonathan Wipplinger
The “Biguine”: The African Diasporic Presence at Weimar’s End
Andrea Geier
How Education about Racism can(not) succeed: Blackface in Literature, Theater, and Film
III: Black Artists. Race, Theater, Institution    
Azadeh Sharifi
Coloniality and decolonial practices in contemporary German theater
Olivia Landry
“Black Bismarck” and the Circum-Mediterranean Performance of Black German Theater
Hanna Voss
From Drama School to Stage: Young Actors of Color in German-Speaking “Sprechtheater”
Simone Dede Ayivi, director and author
Rahel Jankowski, actress
Michael Klammer, actor
Philipp Khabo Köpsell, author 
Olivia Wenzel, author, musician, performer
Roundtable Discussion
Anta Helena Recke
Judgment, Power, and Participation in Theater. Based on the Ascending Career of a Black Female Artist in Germany during the Latter Half of the 2010s


Staging Blackness provides a multifaceted look at how Blackness has been staged in Germany from the eighteenth century, the birth of German national theater, until the present. In recent years, the German stage has been at the forefront of discussions about race, from cases of blackface to fights for better representation within the professional community. These debates frequently invoke larger discussions about the politics of race in German theater and their origins and beyond. 

Written by scholars and theater professionals with a wide variety of historical and theoretical expertise, the chapters seek to explore the connections between the German discourse on national theater and emerging ideas about race, analyze how dramaturges deal with older representations of Blackness in current productions, and discuss the contributions Black German playwrights and dramaturges have made to this discourse. Historians question how these plays were staged in their time, while cultural studies scholars contemplate how to interpret the function of race in these plays and how they can continue to be staged today.

Priscilla Layne is Professor of German and Adjunct Associate Professor of African and Afro-American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the author of White Rebels in Black: German Appropriation of Black Popular Culture (2018). 

Lily Tonger-Erk is Associate Professor at the German Studies Department and Research Associate at the Rhetoric Department of the University of Tübingen, Germany. 

“The scholarship represented in this book is timely and cutting edge. The manuscript marks an important step in the history of German theater studies and theater itself.”
—Tobias Nagl, University of Western Ontario

- Tobias Nagl, University of Western Ontario

“This volume offers an important and groundbreaking contribution to the study of German theater and racial representations. It follows on significant developments in the globalization of the Black Lives Matter movement but also intense debates on the nature of theatrical representation in Germany. And it follows on important academic work; the volume coheres well because the contributors began their dialogue at the Staging Blackness conference, a major gathering.”
—Randall Halle, University of Pittsburgh

- Randall Halle, University of Pittsburgh