Volume 12, Issue 1/2, 2009
Art, Praxis, and Social Transformation
Amiri Baraka’s Repertory Theatre Revisited
Art, Praxis, and Engagement versus the Liberal Ethos
The turbulent 1960s in America testifies to the artistic and intellectual need and move beyond the liberal cult of fantasy and inaction. Amiri Baraka (formerly LeRoi Jones) views the social and political reality in its dynamism, and not in its immutability or stasis. Black art, within a repressive society, must be perceived as an arm, a weapon and not a means of banter or fun. Werner Sollors considers him as the engagé artist par excellence. The political art that Baraka espouses is drastic and functional, an art that exposes common predicaments and plights. Entailed in Baraka’s dramatic art is the diatribe against art for art’s sake, the
fusion of art and activism, and the finality of human action. Baraka considers theatrical playwriting as didactic, telic, and constructive. In this light, art, playwriting, and engagement constitute one monolithic unity that could stand in the face of liberal reactionary politics and arrangements.