- In the 17 years of its operation (19151932), the Lafayette Players, an African American stock company founded by Anita Bush, aimed to provide a venue for serious drama by and about black life in the United States. The goal was to counter stereotypical roles and minstrel traditions clinging to Broadway theatre and to provide a serious dramatic complement to the black musical entertainments offered at the Apollo Theatre and in nightclubs. The company was established for its first 13 years in Harlem's Lafayette Theatre before moving to Los Angeles in 1928. Among the important African American actors and playwrights who worked with the Players, both at the theatre and on tour, were Charles Gilpin, Clarence Muse, Dooley Wilson, Inez Clough, Evelyn Preer, and Abbie Mitchell. Presenting performances on a weekly basis, the company offered abridgments of Broadway comedies and melodramas with the aim of proving that black performers could excel in all types of theatre, not just vaudeville and musicals. Before the financial catastrophes of the Great Depression forced the termination of the Lafayette Players, they had presented approximately 250 productions.
The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. James Fisher.
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