Langston Hughes: Folk Dramatist in the Protest Tradition, 1921-1943

By Joseph McLaren | Go to book overview

Chapter 7
Community Theatre, Black Iconography, and World War II

THE NEW NEGRO THEATRE

Following Langston Hughes's association with the Harlem Suitcase Theatre, whose demise was the result of "'personality problems,'" Hughes formed a similar community based organization in Los Angeles, a "counterpart to the Harlem group." Using the theatre facilities at Forty-first Street and Central Avenue, the New Negro Theatre--its name echoing Locke's 1925 anthology--staged a production of Don't You Want to Be Free? and "three parody sketches" on March 19, 1939. Don't You Want to Be Free? was directed by Clarence Muse, head of the "Negro unit" of the Los Angeles Federal Theatre and Hughes's collaborator on the Hollywood film Way Down South ( 1939), an unflattering and somewhat embarrassing treatment of slavery. The film project had been controlled to a great extent by studio management. Muse supervised the New Negro Theatre after Hughes's departure when Hughes and Arna Bontemps embarked on a lectures series. The theatre eventually allied itself with the mainly white Hollywood Theatre Alliance in an effort to produce the Negro Revue, a project that resulted in "internal squabbles." 1

"The New Negro Theater of Los Angeles" was founded because in the west there was no "permanent Negro Theater Organization for the presentation of the problems, achievement, and beauties of Negro life." Not limiting itself to black content plays, the theatre intended to produce plays by both black and white authors. There was a commitment to produce "classical drama or any other worthwhile piece of theatrical

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Langston Hughes: Folk Dramatist in the Protest Tradition, 1921-1943
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Publication/Copyright Page iv
  • Dedication Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Note xiii
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Abbreviations xvii
  • Introduction 1
  • Endnotes 12
  • Chapter 1 - Folk Comedy in Collaboration: The Mule Bone Affair 17
  • Endnotes 29
  • Chapter 2 - Radical Drama and the Black Community 33
  • Endnotes 54
  • Chapter 3 - The Tragic Mode: Mulatto 59
  • Endnotes 74
  • Chapter 4 - The Gilpin Players and the Karamu Comedies 79
  • Endnotes 97
  • Chapter 5 - The Karamu Tragedies 101
  • Endnotes 114
  • Additional Info *
  • Chapter 6 - The Harlem Suitcase Theatre 117
  • Endnotes 136
  • Chapter 7 - Community Theatre, Black Iconography, and World War II 141
  • Notes 159
  • Notes 165
  • Notes 170
  • Afterword 173
  • Bibliography 175
  • Index 181
  • About the Author *
  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Afro-American and African Studies *
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