UC Berkeley NewsView of Campanile and Golden Gate Bridge
Today's news & events
News by email
For the news media
Calendar of events
Top stories
Untitled Document
Media Advisory

Public talk on Barack Obama and "Blackness of the Political Stage"

29 January 2008

ATTENTION: Writers and editors covering politics, culture and the media

Contact: Kathleen Maclay, Media Relations
(510) 643-5651 kmaclay@berkeley.edu

"Barack Obama: Performing Blackness on the U.S. Political Stage," a talk by Shannon Steen, a University of California, Berkeley, assistant professor and author of the blog "Political Theater" (http://www.politictheater.blogspot.com).

Steen will explore how acting theory helps in understanding Obama's political "act" - especially in forging the role of a black political leader in America. She will analyze the roles Obama has assumed in his political life and how viewing his actions as "merely acting" might obscure a potential avenue of black political strategy.

The community colloquium, presented by UC Berkeley's Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies, takes place on the eve of California's Feb. 5 presidential primary. It is free and open to the public.

5 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 31

Durham Studio Theater on the southwestern side of Dwinelle Hall, just north of Zellerbach Hall near the intersection of Telegraph Avenue and Bancroft Way.

Steen says that when politicians are referred to as actors, it is almost always as a criticism denoting a lack of "substance" or "character."
In her talk, she will examine what it would it mean to be a "good actor" on the U.S. political stage, how politicians use acting techniques to persuade the public, and what such performances require of black politicians.

Steen is an assistant professor in UC Berkeley's Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies and in the American Studies program.