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.

Acultural transformation that bears this liberating potential, according to Taylor, needs to encompass both the “oral tradition of the colonized and the culture that began as the borrowed art of the colonizer” (185). This means that the main aspect of the narrative of liberation in Fanon’s work is the perspective that “[t]wo formerly opposed cultures are now able to face and enrich each other” (Taylor 186). As a result, the Fanonian narrative of liberation, regarded by Taylor as “the key to a new critical self-understanding” (185) of the formerly colonized subjects, promotes a form of self-understanding that moves away from a simple dualistic conception of the self/other relationship in colonial contexts, and from the hierarchic structure resulting from such a conception. Such issues of “in-betweenness, diasporas and cross-overs of ideas and identities generated by colonialism” (Loomba 145) are a central field of concern in postcolonial studies, with concepts of hybridity being among the most influential and most debated. Hybridity can thus be linked to the cultural transformation that Taylor identifies as a main part of what he calls Fanon’s narrative of liberation.

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