5/3/2022 – Mysia Anderson – “Staging Futurity and Reenacting the Past: Theater and Performance in Black Miami’s Historical Preservation Efforts”

Please join the Theater and Performance Studies Workshop for:

Mysia Anderson

PhD Candidate, Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, Brown University

Who will present:

Staging Futurity and Reenacting the Past: Theater and Performance in Black Miami’s Historical Preservation Efforts

Respondent: Dr. Tina Post, Director of Creative Research (TAPS), Assistant Professor in English Language and Literature

Tuesday, May 3,
4:30–6:00 PM CST

Please register for the workshop HERE. The workshop coordinators will circulate the paper to all registrants and the Zoom link is made available upon registration.

(Please do not cite or circulate the works-in-progress without the author’s explicit consent.)

We are committed to making our workshop fully accessible to persons with disabilities. Please direct any questions or concerns to TAPS workshop coordinators, Michael Stablein (mstableinjr@uchicago.edu) and Catrin Dowd (catrindowd@uchicago.edu).

ABSTRACT: This paper explores the role of theater and performance in Black Miami’s historical preservation efforts through an examination of the institution building by two Black Miami natives. Dr. Dorothy Jenkins Fields and Dr. Enid Pinkney are Black women educators who have championed the preservation of Black Miami’s history by building communal institutions rooted in restored historical sites. In 1977, Fields founded the Black Archives History and Research Foundation of South Florida, an organization that strives to “collect and preserve the rapidly vanishing material that reflects the African American experience in Miami-Dade County.” With Fields at the helm, the foundation acquired Miami’s Lyric Theater in 1988 and transformed the space into the largest repository of 20th century Black life in South Florida. During the early 20th century, Lyric Theater was known as Black Miami’s “Little Broadway” and attracted major entertainment acts from across the nation. Today, the restored theater houses the Black Archives Foundation and serves the local community through arts and cultural programming. Less than a ten-minute drive away, Pinkney organized a demonstration in the early 2000s to halt the demolition of Miami’s Historic Hampton House, an abandoned Green Book hotel. Pinkney led a successful initiative to save the Hampton House and transformed the site into a cultural center that offers music programming and cultural exhibitions. A visit to the restored Hampton House inspired Kemp Powers to write the play One Night in Miami, and this dramatic work was later adapted into a film produced by Amazon Studios. Fields and Pinkney’s oral accounts and the history of the sites themselves demonstrate how performance and theatricality conjure political power in the preservationists efforts. This paper lingers with the political capacity of theater and performance in the struggle to prove Black Miami’s historical value to the state and in popular culture.

BIO: Mysia Anderson (she/her) is an artist-scholar from Miami Gardens, Florida. She is a doctoral candidate in Brown University’s Theatre Arts and Performance Studies department, and her dissertation dwells in the environmental poetics of Black Miami through an exploration of oral history, storytelling, and performance. Bridging Black feminist theory and practice, she documents the city’s struggle for Black sustainability in the midst of racial capitalism and environmental degradation. Currently, Mysia is also a part-time student in the Atlantic Acting School’s Global Virtual Conservatory. She is an actress, dramaturg, and playwright who desires to tell stories grounded in Black world-making.

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