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Rewriting The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: African American Musical Theatre and The Wiz Live!

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2022, 35(2), pp.5-30
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama
  • Received : July 25, 2022
  • Accepted : August 14, 2022
  • Published : August 31, 2022

강예린 1

1서울대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The Wiz (1975) is a unique musical theatre work based on L. Frank Baum’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Although the two works share a similar plot structure, The Wiz has a different racial and ethnic context, as all the characters and most of its creators are African American. This paper analyses The Wiz Live! (2015), a live television adaptation of The Wiz, to explore how this work turned Baum’s novel into a contemporary African American fairy tale. The Wiz Live! enhances the African American identity of The Wiz in various ways. Firstly, the narrative highlights specific topics. For example, The Wiz Live! uses home as a central motive, one that is frequently expressed as the subject of desire in African American literature and in African Americans’ actual lives. In addition, the work dramatically depicts personal and racial liberation. Through this, the characters represent African Americans who move beyond the past of oppression and discrimination to equality and freedom. Secondly, the work inherits the African American popular music used in The Wiz, such as funk and soul, to audibly describe the physicality, spirit, and identity of African Americans. Lastly, the costumes, stage art and choreography in The Wiz Live! imply the cultural aesthetic of Afrofuturism, which evokes a futuristic African American culture and people, thus actively employing modern technology, contexts and media rather than following the example of the original works. The Wiz Live! successfully points the way forward for African American musical theatre in the future.

Citation status

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