Nicole Beharie Went To Juilliard!!
And she also trained at Oxford at Balliol College!! She studied Shakespeare!
*and here comes the snob in me* She is a Balliol girl?…Right! Everyone go home IMMEDIATELY!
Rarely do you see an African American woman, in theater, that is leading in a musical that is of present day. Rarely. I mean, if you can think of one, let me know. Black women work in theater in all different aspects, comedy, drama, farce, everywhere. But there aren’t any modern musicals written today that African American women are leading in. And I don’t know why that is honestly. - LaChanze
One of the earliest Black superstars, singer Florence Mills (1896-1927) on August 1, 1923 in ‘Dover Street to Dixie’ at the London Pavilion. Best known as the lead in the first all-black Broadway musical, “Shuffle Along” in 1921, Ms. Mills sudden death in 1927 at the height of her popularity devastated her friends and fans in the United States and Europe. An estimated 150,000 people lined the streets of Harlem to mourn her passing. Photo: Bassano/National Portrait Gallery, London.
Young playwrights are usurped by theaters so quickly they don’t have time to develop a voice. When you’re so quickly absorbed, you don’t feel that tension, that struggle to define and assert one’s voice, and that ultimately shapes what we see on stage.
August Wilson’s Fences is one of those texts that had a tremendous impact on my life. The first time I read it I was in graduate school, and I then spent the next week or so reading and re-reading it. It is that powerful.
And then when I finally had an opportunity to witness the Broadway production, I was even more moved. And a number of great African American actors—James Earl Jones, Laurence Fishburne, and Denzel Washington, to name a few—have played the role of Troy Maxson masterfully.
If you have not read the book and/or seen the Broadway production, you are missing something wonderful very wonderful. You need this in your life.
Black theater pioneers Bob Cole (l) and J. Rosamond Johnson (r), ca. 1890(?). The two men were part of a trio that included Rosamond’s brother James Weldon Johnson. Together they wrote over 200 songs and performed for audiences in the United States and Europe. The trio steered audiences away from the degrading “coon songs” that were popular during the mid 1880s to early 1900s by offering music that was sophisticated, refined and free of stereotypes. In 1900, Rosamond composed music for one of James Weldon’s poems. The piece was entitled Lift Every Voice and Sing.
Photographer, date unknown.