Raphael, Lennox, 1971 November 30
Scope and Contents
Mr. Raphael plans to talk about himself as a playwright and the problems and successes he's encountered and also the role of the Black man in drama and American life. Sound goes in and out [first 50+/- sec].
Poet, playwright, and journalist Lennox Raphael lectured on 11/30/1971 (2015-0002/RR252). Raphael, born in Trinidad, began his career as a writer by working as a reporter in Jamaica before coming to the United States as a U.N. correspondent during the 1960s. Living in New York City, Raphael became a staff writer for the underground newspaper, the East Village Other, and an editor for Umbra, a poetry journal. In 1969, Raphael worked as a writer in the schools with the Teachers and Writers Collaborative.
In his journalism, Raphael has explored the relationship between black West Indian immigrants to the United States and the longer established African-American community. He points out that, in the 1960s, although there was a need for West Indian immigrants to show solidarity with African Americans, many of those immigrants felt themselves to be superior to American-born blacks.
In regard to his playwriting, Raphael is perhaps best known for his work, Che!, which presents Che Guevara as a hero rather than a Communist villain. The play garnered considerable negative attention, not only for the positive depiction of Guevara, but also for its explicit sexual content, for which Raphael, as well as the actors and director of the play, was arrested for the public indecency the play showcased. Raphael also wrote the play Blue Soap.
Although a longtime resident of New York City, Raphael now lives in Copenhagen, Denmark.
- 1971 November 30
Conditions Governing Access
Links to digitized content are included in the finding aid.
Biographical / Historical
Lennox Raphael was born September 17, 1939, in Trinidad, West Indies. Raphael worked as a reporter in Jamaica before first coming to the United States as a U.N. correspondent. He also became a staff writer for the underground newspaper the East Village Other, and an editor of Umbra, a poetry journal based in New York. In 1969 Raphael worked as a writer in the schools with the Teachers & Writers Collaborative at P.S. 26 in Brooklyn, New York.
Raphael's journalism has explored the relationship between black West Indian immigrants to the United States and the longer established African-American community. He points out that, in the 1960s, although there was a need for West Indian immigrants to show solidarity with African Americans, many of those immigrants felt themselves to be superior to American-born blacks.
Raphael's best-known play is Che!, which presents Che Guevara as a hero who was the object of sexually motivated envy by his enemies, including the President of the United States. The play featured scenes of nudity and explicit sex, and, soon after it opened in New York City in 1969, was closed by the Public Morals Police Squad of New York City, with Raphael being arrested along with the actors and director. It reopened after a judge ruled that the play was protected by the free speech provisions of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. In February 1970 the Manhattan Criminal Court found Raphael, along with the cast, producer and set designer, "guilty beyond any reasonable doubt of participating in an obscene performance which predominantly appealed and pandered to prurient interest and went beyond the customary limits of candor in presenting profanity, filth, defecation, masochism, sadism, masturbation, nudity, copulation, sodomy and other devaite sexual intercourse".
Raphael's next play, Blue Soap, avoided such problems by restricting any sexual content to the dialogue.
Raphael lives presently in Copenhagen, where he is a painter and published poet.
1 Reels (Magnetic tape audio recording) : RR 252 1 reel, 0:56:08; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester.
Language of Materials
From the Series: English
- African American artists Subject Source: Fast
- African American dramatists Subject Source: Fast
- African American poets Subject Source: Fast
- Black Experience in the Arts Course (University of Connecticut) -- Sound recordings Subject Source: Local sources
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