Throughout the history of American theater, the desire for a separate Black theater tradition has raised challenges and contradictions. Over the past decade, as many Black Theater institutions have stumbled and failed, revived and evolved, the question has arisen far too often, “Do we still need ethnically specific theaters?” Manifesto after manifesto has been written; critics, scholars and artists have debated; headlines have declaimed the question. Now at the new millennium for a new generation, we still wrestle with issues of cultural identity, political correctness, ethnic and gender politics all in an effort to correct the history of bigotry, oppression and segregation that has led generation after generation to this quandary in the first place.
art: Negro Unit of the Works Progress Administration. Lafayette Theatre, New York, 1936