TAR (premiered September 2007, Philadelphia Live Arts Festival) 25-40 minutes
Tar is a multimedia work that responds to “The Wonderful Tarbaby Story” by Joel Chandler Harris. While its roots can be traced back to West Africa and Native American folklore, Joel Chandler Harris’ version and Walt Disney’s 1946 film adaptation of this popular Southern folktale are the ones that inhabit our cultural imaginations. The tales were retold by white men who claimed to be giving voice to an old Black man, Uncle Remus, who is an ex-slave. Tar reflects and gives voice to the unarticulated voices—the disappeared voices—that whisper on the periphery of Harris and Disney’s versions: Uncle Remus’ original African voice, the voice of the descendants of African slaves and ex-slaves and the voice of the African American child, present but mute in the film, present but mute in the American racial past. These unheard/unacknowledged voices are the “tarbabies” of TAR. The 2007 premiere of Tar was made possible in part by support from Dance Advance, a funding initiative supported by Pew Charitable Trusts. The 2013 re-staging of TAR will premiere at University of Texas at Austin as a part of the Performing Blackness series in April.
“Big, breathtakingly passionate work [that] conveyed the openhearted reach of an inner journey” – Philadelphia Inquirer