"Octaroon, quadroon, mulatto, grief! "
So chant actors Mark Broyard and Roger Guenever Smith in their performance-art flavored "Inside the Creole Mafia," an irreverent romp through the insular world of the French-descended, generally light-skinned blacks of New Orleans known as Creoles.
The very American obsession with demarcating clear racial lines--embodied in terms like octaroon, a person with one-eighth black ancestry and therefore legally black in the old South--is at the core of this piece, which takes a biting look at multiracialism that is far different from its politically correct image of the '90s.
"Creole is a culture within a culture," said Broyard, a New Orleans native. "It's a fascinating bit of Americana. The people have a common geography, food, religion. Still, there can be a divisiveness."