Skip to main content

"An Experience of Finality": Race on the Modern American Stage

Markyl Ryals
Markl Ryals
Faculty Adviser(s)

When exploring representations of race on the modern stage, it is paramount to begin by examining recent works that have appeared on Broadway, the stronghold of the American theatrical tradition. Pulling from the new works that have recently appeared on Broadway, this research compares “Fairview” by Jackie Sibblies Drury, “Slave Play” by Jeremy O. Harris, “What to Send Up When it Goes Down” by Aleshea Harris, and “An Octoroon” by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, all works by contemporary and award-winning Black playwrights. In examining the original text of the plays themselves, the staging of their Broadway productions, and the critical reception during their showing, conclusions about the current conversation of race on the stage, individually in each production and of the overall theatrical culture, are revealed. This research draws upon textual analysis and critical media studies, in combination with exploratory theatrical studies, built intentionally upon a foundation of modern critical racial theory.  



Markl Ryals (they/them) is a senior from Gainesville, Florida, majoring in History and Race and Ethnicity Studies with minors in English and Media Studies. They are the president of the Pierrettes and Open Up, Salem's on campus theatre troupe and LGBT+ organization, respectively. After graduation, they plan to move abroad and attend graduate school to study Theatre for Young Audiences, combining their experience as a childcare worker with their passion for directing. In their free time, Markl is an avid reader and is currently enjoying American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Cross Creek by Majorie Kinnan Rawlings, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.