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Edwin Corena Puentes

was born in the town of Puerto Tejada, department of Cauca, located in the southwest of Colombia. Founded at the end of the nineteenth century, this region is characterized by intense political battles and the cultivation of independent thought. Over time, libertarian and rebel traditions have been built by community members of this black enclave, who saw in politics a space to debate and fight for their rights. Díaz’s childhood was spent listening to political slogans in his town’s plaza and watching sunsets on the Paila River. In his youth, he left for Bogotá to enroll in school at the Universidad Externado de Colombia. At that time, the Liberal Party was in power, and it had begun to construct a much more open and revolutionary discourse than previous Conservative governments. Díaz took great interest in these new progressive ideas, which influenced his political vocation and his leftist ideas.

In 1945 ...

Article

Felicia A. Chenier

black theater organizer, writer, director, folklorist, chorographer, and educator, was born in Houston, Texas, the only daughter of Gerthyl Rae and Harvey G. Dickerson, an army officer. As a military child Dickerson traveled extensively with her parents and brother, Harvey. After graduating high school in Syracuse, New York, Dickerson studied at Howard University in Washington, D.C. While there she studied theater and was mentored by noted educator and writer Owen Dodson, who was then the Drama Department chair. Noteworthy of her experiences at Howard is her discovery of writings by Zora Neale Hurston. After receiving a bachelor of fine arts (BFA) from Howard in 1966, Dickerson received a master of fine arts (MFA) from Adelphi University in Long Island, New York, in 1968 During the same year she returned to Howard as an assistant professor of drama and staged her directorial ...

Article

Vanessa Agard-Jones

culinary anthropologist, poet, performing artist, and journalist, was born Verta Mae Smart in Fairfax, South Carolina, the daughter of Frank Smart. She grew up in Monk's Corner, South Carolina, and as a teenager moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she attended Kensington High School. Grosvenor married twice, first to Robert S. Grosvenor and later to Ellensworth Ausby, and had two children.

Grosvenor's early life in the South Carolina Lowcountry was enormously influential in her later career, grounding her in a cultural milieu that was thoroughly Geechee (or Gullah) in language (her first language was the Creole known as Gullah), in ritual, and perhaps most importantly to her later work, in food. Geechee communities of the American South have retained African linguistic and cultural practices.

At the age of thirty-two, in 1970, Grosvenor published her culinary memoir Vibration Cooking or The Travel Notes of a ...

Article

Edward T. Washington

scholar, theater historian, editor, playwright, and director, was born Errol Gaston Hill in Port of Spain, Trinidad, the son of Thomas David and Lydia (Gibson) Hill. Hill's father lived away from the family throughout the boy's childhood, but his mother, a singer and actress in the local Methodist Church, strongly influenced him to pursue a theatrical career. Hill's involvement with drama took a major step forward in the mid-1940s when he co-founded, with the international actor Errol John and others a local amateur theater group called the Whitehall Players While writing acting and directing in that group Hill developed an interest in Trinidadian carnival and steel band music By the early 1950s with the assistance and support of the Trinidad and Tobago Youth Council Hill was among the first Trinidadians to air steel band music on the radio Given the worldwide popularity of ...

Article

Debbie Clare Olson

filmmaker, producer, director, playwright, writer, and cultural critic, was born in Newark, New Jersey, but spent most of his childhood in North Carolina. Little is known about his family. After high school, Moss moved to Baltimore and attended Morgan State College, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1929. He also attended Columbia University in New York City, where he formed a troupe of black actors called “Toward a Black Theater.” The troupe toured around New York City and performed at various black colleges.

Moss was active in the theater and radio and acted in his first film, The Phantom of Kenwood, in 1933. The film was directed by Oscar Micheaux, one of the more prolific early black filmmakers. Between 1932 and 1933 Moss wrote three dramas—“Careless Love,” “Folks from Dixie,” and “Noah”—for a radio series called The Negro Hour ...

Article

George Ogola

Kenyan novelist, actor, and newspaper humorist and cultural critic, was born in 24 October 1954 in Nyeri, Central Kenya, a place he immortalized in his newspaper column, “Whispers,” as “the slopes of Mount Kenya,” a literal reference to the region’s mountainous topography. He was Octavia Muthoni and Elijah Mutahi Wahome’s first child in a family of eight children (two girls and six boys). Mutahi attended Catholic schools, a life that graced his writings. Baptized Paul, a name he later dropped, Mutahi became an altar boy at his local church and later joined the seminary, in what should have led him to joining the Catholic priesthood. Despite being encouraged by his parents to train as a priest, Mutahi dropped out of the seminary in 1972 because he found the institution too strict for his liberal ideas Instead he joined Kirimara High School for his A level education the last two ...

Article

Jennifer Lynn Headley

cultural critic, historian, performance and installation artist, photographer, writer, and activist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Her mother, Lena, emigrated from Jamaica to Boston in the 1920s. She earned a BA from Wellesley College in Spanish and Economics and an MFA in Fiction Writing from the University of Iowa, studying-in its renowned Writers' Workshop. From Iowa, she moved to New York City and began writing for the Village Voice and Rolling Stone as a rock critic. She changed her career course with her first performance pieces in the 1980s and her critical writings about art and its effect on students and peers.

O'Grady's first performed as Mlle. Bourgeoise Noire, loosely translated into Ms. Black Middle Class; her alter ego was a rowdy uninvited guest to numerous high-profile art exhibitions. Mlle. Bourgeoise Noire Goes to JAM (1980), Mlle Bourgeoise Noire Goes to ...

Article

Rebecca Dirksen

was born in Marlique, a rural area of Pétionville, Haiti, on 17 October 1951, to Antoine Canova Parent, a tutor and the director of a rural school, and Silvanie Valemont, a merchant who produced and sold cornmeal and flour made from plantains and other tropical produce. Clark Parent attended primary and secondary school at the École Frère Jules de Pétionville until increasing vision impairment forced him to withdraw. Facing blindness while still a youth, he benefited from private tutors as he advanced in his studies. This physical handicap likely pushed him to develop his other senses and abilities to prodigious heights.

Clark Parent made his first guitar out of scrap materials at age 8 or 9, and, with his siblings, he would regularly entertain the neighborhood community with live music on Sunday afternoons. Self-taught as a musician, this childhood pastime would become something much more significant: in 1969 ...

Article

Joy G. Kinard

public orator, college president, philosopher, and clergyman, was born Joseph Charles Dozier in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, to Emily Pailin, a freeborn woman, and Charles Dozier, a former slave and ship carpenter. While Joseph was a young boy, Dozier moved away to find work in Baltimore, Maryland, at a shipyard. Joseph's mother later married David Price, and Price adopted Joseph as his own son. In 1863 the Price family moved to New Bern, North Carolina, which was controlled by federal troops at the time. While in New Bern, Joseph attended St. Andrews Chapel, a parochial school, and he attended the Lowell Normal School of New Bern in 1866. Beginning in 1871 he began teaching in Wilson, North Carolina, where he stayed for the next four years. He attended Shaw University in Raleigh in 1873 for a brief period. In 1875 he ...

Article

Darshell Silva

(also known as Cromwell Ashbie Hawkins West, Carlos Ashbie Hawk Westez, Ashbie Hawkins West, and Namo S. Hatirire) activist, linguist, storyteller, performer, and shaman, was born in Newport, Rhode Island. There are varying accounts of Red Thunder Cloud's parentage and upbringing. According to his own account, he was born Carlos Ashibie Hawk Westez. As a young boy, he was brought up among the Narragansett Indians of Rhode Island by his Catawba mother, Roberta Hawk Westez, and his Honduran father, Carlos Panchito Westez. He is believed to have lived among the Shinnecock Indians of Long Island in the late 1930s. His actual home during much of this time was said to be on the Catawba Reservation in South Carolina, but he traveled extensively, visiting many Indian groups. This account of his early life has been challenged by Smithsonian anthropologist and ethnologist Ives Goddard who claimed ...

Article

Edward F. Sweat

The only son of Nathan and Catherine Tillman, Nathaniel Patrick Tillman, Sr. was born on January 17, 1898, in Birmingham, Alabama. Tillman's parents died when he was still a boy, and he was reared by his grandmother. He received his B.A. degree in 1920 from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. On September 13, 1920, Tillman married Mattie V. Reynolds. Two children were born from that union: Nathaniel P., Jr., who later became a well-known educator, and Virginia, later Mrs. Whatley. After spending two years as a teacher at Alcorn College in Mississippi, Tillman returned to Atlanta in 1924 and spent the remainder of his academic career there.

Tillman earned both his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Wisconsin, in 1927 and 1940, respectively. He also studied at the University of Oxford in England in the summer of 1934 and ...

Article

Nicola Cooney

Solano Trindade was born in 1908 in Recife, a town in northeastern Brazil, the son of a mulatto cobbler and a mestizo (of indigenous and European descent) woman. His interest in folklore and popular arts was instilled at an early age, as he would routinely accompany his father to local folk dances and read aloud to his illiterate mother.

After some advanced schooling, Trindade became a Presbyterian deacon and began to write poetry. His early works were mystical writings, and his black poetry would evolve soon thereafter. In 1936 Trindade published his first book, Poemas Negros, and founded the Frente Negra Pernambucana (Black Front of Pernambuco) and the Centro Cultural Afro-Brasileiro (Afro-Brazilian Cultural Center). These groups united a group of contemporary black writers with a view to collecting and disseminating the work of fellow Afro-Brazilian poets and painters. In 1959 Trindade founded the Teatro Popular Brasileiro Brazilian ...

Article

Betty Kaplan Gubert

Walton, Lester A. (20 April 1882–16 October 1965), diplomat, journalist, civil rights activist, and theater producer, was born Lester Aglar Walton in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Benjamin A. Walton, Sr., and Olive May Camphor Walton. After graduation from Sumner High School, Walton began his career as a journalist at the Globe-Democrat. He worked as a court reporter, covered general stories, and wrote a column on golf for the St. Louis Star Sayings, later the St. Louis Star-Time, from 1902 to 1906. Walton was thus the first African American to write for a white daily, and he was an active member of the St. Louis Press Club. For a time he also wrote for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, under Herbert Bayard Swope.

During these years Walton and Ernest Hogan a well known entertainer were copyrighting the words and music respectively ...