National Treasure V. National Disgrace


In the early 1930s an all-nude black female revue of Hamlet secretly tours the American South. Whether you interpret extra-high heels with lust or horror, this Hamlet is made to traverse the history of the Earth––from Ice Age to Heat Death. By pure chance, Nanyanika sees the production one evening after doing lumber camp research on the practice of white men in power taking black women as sexual concubines––what used to be referred to as “paramour rights.” She meditates on manacled hands seen up close in photographs smuggled out of plantation war zones & on the black faces of the spellbound crowd swarming in & out of the double-wide trailer juke joint. “If anyone does succeed in decoding the African American experience” she says later, backstage, to the actress playing the ghost, “it’s recognition will be as instantaneous as a bouquet of flowers so big it’s called ‘Insane trees towering above the insane world.’”



[Published in The Ongoing Saga I Told My Daughter: Expanded Edition.

© 2016 by Jim Cohn.]




The Ongoing Saga I Told My Daughter: Expanded Edition
(MAP Publications, 2016)