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"Spectacular Opacities": The Hyers Sisters' Performances Of Respectability And Resistance, Jocelyn Buckner
Theatre Faculty Articles and Research
This essay analyzes the Hyers Sisters, a Reconstruction-era African American sister act, and their radical efforts to transcend social limits of gender, class, and race in their early concert careers and three major productions, Out of Bondage and Peculiar Sam, or The Underground Railroad, two slavery-to-freedom epics, and Urlina, the African Princess, the first known African American play set in Africa. At a time when serious, realistic roles and romantic plotlines featuring black actors were nearly nonexistent due to the country’s appetite for stereotypical caricatures, the Hyers Sisters used gender passing to perform opposite one another as heterosexual lovers ...