African American drama has, until recently, been rooted in the mimetic tradition of modern American naturalism. The most distinctive attribute of this tradition is the mechanistic, materialistic conception of humanity. Naturalism sees each individual as inextricably bound to the environment and depicts each person as someone controlled by, instead of controlling, concrete reality. As long as African American drama maintained naturalism as its dominant mode, it could only express the “plight of African American people”. Its heroes might declare the madness of reality, but reality inevitably triumphed over them.
The surrealistic plays of Adrienne Kennedy mark one of the first departures from naturalism by an African American dramatist. The overall goal of her work has been to depict the world of the soul and the spirit, not to mirror concrete reality. Within this framework, Kennedy has been able to portray African American minds and souls liberated from their connections to the external environment.
1. Which of the following best states the central idea of the passage?
A. African American drama has been primarily influenced by naturalisms emphasis on the materialistic.
B. African American drama has traditionally acknowledged the relationship between the individual and the environment.
C. African American drama, traditionally naturalistic, has been little influenced by dramatist Kennedy’s spiritual and psychological approach to drama.
D. The work of Kennedy suggests a shift away from a commitment to strict naturalism in African American drama.
E. The work of Kennedy best exemplifies the current interest of African American artists in the spiritual and psychological worlds.
2. According to the passage, Kennedy is concerned with depicting the
A. internal rather than the external life of her characters
B. madness of reality rather than the effects of reality
C. effects of materialism on African American minds and souls
D. relationship between naturalism and the human spirit
E. effects that her characters have on the environment
3. Which of the following statements, if true, would most strengthen the authors assertion that Kennedy’s work marks a serious departure from the tradition described in the first paragraph?
A. Kennedy places the action in a real-life setting that is nevertheless unfamiliar to the average viewer or reader
B. Kennedy movingly portrays the lives and struggles of prominent African Americans in the United States
C. Kennedy uses characters found only in ancient African legends and mythology
D. Kennedy provides insights into American mimetic tradition and dramatic convention
E. Kennedy depicts the events in a style reminiscent of a television documentary.