Poetry; Vocal Arts; Theatrical Installation; Performance
Published in 2006, Native Guard received the Pulitzer Prize in 2007, and the book's author, Natasha Trethewey, went on to become the US Poet Laureate in 2012 and 2014. Trethewey emphasizes that Native Guard is a book of poetry, not a collection of poems that were gathered together for publication. This one among many reasons it was an excellent source for a theatrical production by the Alliance Theatre (in Atlanta) in 2014, in restaged in 2018. Actors January Lavoy (the poet) and Anton Neal (the native guard) breathe new life into Trethewey's work, expressing the deep musicality of the mixture of prose and verse. This study applies methods from computational linguistics to understand how the actors use rhythm and intonation make the written word come alive in this unusual production, termed a "Theatrical Installation". Director Susan Booth and the actors were very deliberate in their fidelity to the written word--they made a commitment to Trethewey to not alter a single line of text. This offers a unique opportunity to study how the poem is interpreted both in recitation and performance across a decade: the study interprets recordings by Trethewey (2007) and the theatrical productions of 2014 and 2018.
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Conference: National Council for Black Studies Dates: March 14-17, 2018 Location: Atlanta, GA