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date: 05 June 2020

Lewis, Theophilus locked

(1891–1974), drama critic for the Messenger during the Harlem Renaissance.
  • Johnanna L. Grimes-Williams

Extract

Theophilus Lewis was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1891, attended public schools, and moved to New York City. He became a manual laborer and later a postal worker, a position that he retained until his retirement. It provided his livelihood during the Harlem Renaissance when he wrote the theater reviews in the Messenger, since he received no remuneration for his writing.

Lewis's theater columns, which appeared from 1923 to 1927, chronicled primarily African American stage productions presented in different venues from Harlem to Broadway at a critical stage in African American history. They also championed development of an African American little theater movement. In referring to such groups as the Ethiopian Art Theater, the Tri-Arts Club, the Krigwa Players (founded by W. E. B. Du Bois and the Aldridge Players Lewis reveals his understanding of their importance to the evolution of African American theater and drama ...

A version of this article originally appeared in The Concise Oxford Companion to African American Literature.

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