La Danse sur le volcan: Marie Vieux Chauvet tells her-story of the theatrical life in Saint Domingue at the dawn of the Revolution
My paper aims first at examining the historical dimension of Marie Vieux-Chauvet’s novel regarding more specifically the artistic and cultural stage, and to what extent the author sticks to the historical reality or diverges from it? In order to evaluate if Danse sur le volcan offers a faithful picture of the theatrical world of the 18th century in Saint Domingue in the decade preceding the Haitian insurrection, I confront the novel to historical sources and examine the fictional reconstitution in terms of spaces (theaters), programs, actors. The second part of the paper focuses on theater as a potential space of emancipation for slaves: I examine the complex racial and social hierarchy of the time period and how the theatrical stage challenges prejudices and allows apparently a possible transgression of laws. I compare the different trajectories of the two sisters Minette and Lise as well as the status and parts played by black and white artists in Saint Domingue in the 1780s. Is Danse sur le volcan a plea towards Black emancipation, and women emancipation through the arts?