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In crossing the cultural border between the North and the South, Yolanda, the main character in Regina Taylor’s Crowns, is sent on both a physical and metaphysical journey that symbolizes the ideology of the Kongo Cosmogram. South Carolina, Yolanda’s landing point and the play’s geographical context, bears multiple implications for the dramaturgy of Crowns. The land is saturated with memories of the African presence due to slave importation patterns within the coastal Sea Islands and low-country post–Civil War settlement by formerly enslaved people of West Africa and the Caribbean. As such Yorùbá aesthetics and theoretical ideas of the self are evident in the characterizations in Crowns, and Gullah culture shapes its dramatic structure. Taylor employs a dramaturgy of the “mother tongue”—the use of ideological and aesthetic elements (language, rites, “myths, rhythms, and cosmic sensibilities”) (Harrison 1974, 5) of a pre–Trans-Atlantic history—to provide continuity across the oceans and between the river of the living and the departed; to foster healing, order, and liberation in Yolanda’s state of dis-ease and chaos; and to illumine her soul (Ford 1999, 5; Marsh-Lockett and West 2013, 3).

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Continuum: The Journal of African Diaspora Drama, Theatre and Performance





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