Revolting acts and impassioned Haitian men in the francophone world theatres of Vincent Placoly and Simone Schwarz-Bart

Francosphères (2015), 4, (1), 35–51.


This article discusses the presence of Haiti, and in particular Haitian men, in francophone theatre published and staged throughout the world. It discusses Haitian male protagonists’ engagement in quests for sovereignty, and specifically how their passion for this quest leads them into revolting states that are simultaneously yet varyingly political (revolt) and aesthetic (revulsion). Such a claim reawakens the argument that Haitians of Haiti or the diaspora – and even Haiti writ large – continue to be connected to heroic and sometimes misguided quests because of assumptions made about dramatic elements of Haiti’s revolutionary history. Alongside the novel, which has remained the most globally and critically known literary space where such questions take shape, dramatic works like Vincent Placoly’s Dessalines, ou la passion de l’indépendance (1983), and Simone Schwarz-Bart’s Ton beau capitaine (1987), have also inserted themselves into the conversation for decades. Through a discussion of these works, this article underscores the particular even unique relationship between quests for sovereignty, dramatic text and the performing arts. More notably, it demonstrates how the actions of the protagonists, Jean-Jacques Dessalines and Wilnor Baptiste, spotlight the revolting legacy bequeathed by non-Haitian francophone playwrights and directors to Haitian male protagonists and, indirectly, to Haitian men. Ultimately, Dessalines and Capitaine, as written and performed works circulated in francophone global spheres, productively complicate perspectives on ways in which Haitians and specifically Haitian men pursue sovereignty as the texts reveal the inexorable drama forever wrapped up in such quests of humanity.


Author details

Flaugh, Christian