Themes In Harlem Duet

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Harlem Duet and the Black Canadian Identity Throughout the Canadian theatre canon, stories about what it means to be Canadian and to have a Canadian identity are often explored, but a lot of these stories are often focused on one specific lens of being Canadian, the white Eurocentric lens. Canada often prides itself for being multicultural and an accepting country where people of colour from all over the world can move here and live a prosperous life. However, this is reflected very poorly in Canadian theatre. Harlem Duet written by Djanet Sears in 1997, challenges the white Eurocentric lens by focusing this Canadian story on the relationship of a black couple. This play explores many themes from race, feminism, and what it means to be Canadian or more specifically a black Canadian. Harlem Duet was written as a prequel to the Shakespearean play, Othello. Sears uses Othello as a springboard to retell the story of who Othello was and is from a black perspective. A perspective Sears notes, “[she doesn’t] know Shakespeare had, partly because of his time, partly because of his race, partly because of his gender. But, you know, he was influenced by his time. Othello is for instance not really Othello 's play. Othello is not Othello 's story” (Buntin). Othello is focused more on the schemes of Iago and the tragic life of Desdemona. By retelling this story Sears is putting Othello in the centre of the narrative and giving focus to the nuances of his life as a black man. Dickson
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