Hybridity as a “Narrative of Liberation” in Trevor D. Rhone’s Old Story Time

Abstract: “The problem is important. I propose nothing short of the liberation of the man of color from himself” (8), writes Frantz Fanon in Black Skin, White Masks. Patrick Taylor has been identifying what he calls the “narrative of liberation” throughout Fanon’s critical work, and his analysis of this can be linked with phenomena of hybridity.
In Trevor D. Rhone’s play Old Story Time, hybridity is presented as such a liberating narrative. Hybridity is included in the play on several levels, beginning with the setting. The vernacular used by many of the play’s characters also reveals its hybrid character. Furthermore, on the formal level Trevor Rhone has created a drama that resists categorization into the Western form of epic drama by emphasizing the role of the Caribbean storytelling tradition. On the level of characters, Miss Aggy overcomes her self-destructive internalized racism in the final scene when she accepts the hybrid nature of her identity.
In this sense, Old Story Time incorporates what Taylor terms an “imperative of liberation” (188). Read as an allegory to the society of the West Indies, the play calls for the acceptance of its hybrid nature as a means of overcoming the colonial legacy.

The problem is important. I propose nothing short of the liberation of the man of color from himself” (8), writes Frantz Fanon in the introduction to Black Skin, White Masks. The central word in this quotation, according to Patrick Taylor, would be “liberation.” Taylor identifies what he calls the “narrative of liberation” and traces it throughout the work of Fanon (5-6). He sees the starting point for Fanon’s liberating narrative in a “revolutionary consciousness of colonial and neo-colonial socio-political systems and the possibilities of their transformation” (185, my italics). Taylor further states that “[t]he form of consciousness that ultimately manifests itself in Fanon’s work is liberating national consciousness, committed to transforming relations of oppression” (186), indicating that the cultural transformation that Fanon has envisioned in his work is directed against the oppression that is inherent in the colonial system and its discourses.

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