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The Moving Image & Recorded Sound Division (MIRS) houses unique audiovisual materials including original cast recordings, documentaries, television broadcasts, oral histories of African-Americans across disciplines including the performing arts and other rare items. Listed below are a few of the MIRS African-American theater related audio-visual holdings. Appointments are preferred. Contact MIRS via email at email@example.com or (212) 491-2270 during regular hours.
Black theatre: the making of a movement by
Call Number: Sc Visual DVD-1887
In this documentary, the meaning of black theatre is discussed by accomplished playwrights, directors, producers and performers. Includes interviews with Amiri Baraka, Ed Bullins, Ossie Davis, James Earl Jones, Ntozake Shange, and others.
The Negro Ensemble Company by
Call Number: Sc Visual VRA-27 Service copy
This documentary about the Negro Ensemble Company features interviews with NEC founding and company members, including Douglas Turner Ward, Denzel Washington, Rosalind Cash, Esther Rolle and others.
Paul Robeson: here I stand by
Call Number: Sc Visual VRA-718
This documentary presents the life of Paul Robeson, an actor, singer, scholar and activist.
Oral Histories and Interviews
An Interview with Rosetta Le Noire
Call Number: Sc Visual DVD-1351 (Disc 1 and Disc 2)
Rosetta LeNoire was a founding member of American Negro Theatre and she later went on to establish her own company, AMAS. LeNoire is remembered for her role in the long running TV sitcom "Family Matters." The interview was conducted by Jean Blackwell Hutson, the former curator and chief of the Schomburg Center.
An Interview with Bert Andrews
Call Number: Sc Visual VRB-1558-1559
In this interview, noted photographer Bert Andrews, who documented African-American theater in New York City for decades, discusses how he became involved with theater photography and his distinguished career. He is interviewed by Deborah Willis, former Curator of the Schomburg Center's Photographs and Prints Division.
Go tell it--Ben Hooks Reports
Call Number: Sc Visual DVD-973
In this 1980 episode of "Go Tell It," a Black public affairs TV program, performer and choreographer Debbie Allen and others explain how they got their start, what motivates them and what it takes to stay in the business.
Call Number: Sc Visual DVD-792
In this 1979 episode of "Black Conversations" Tony Award winning theater artist and actor Geoffrey Holder. who directed the original Broadway production of the musical "The Wiz," discusses his work on the Broadway musical "Timbuktu" and the influence that Holder's birthplace of Trinidad and his family has on his work. "Black Conversations" was a talk show that aired on a local New York City television station WPIX.
Inside 82. Lofton Mitchell center stage
Call Number: Sc Visual DVD-798
In this program, playwright Loften Mitchell discusses his production of the musical "Bubbling Brown Sugar" and the other works he authored including "Ballad For Bimshire."
Play Adaptations on Film/Video
Original Cast Recordings
The following titles are some of the original cast recordings of theatrical performances featuring or by Black artists from the mid to late 20th century that are available in the Moving Image & Recorded Sound Division. To listen to these LPs, please inquire with a Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division staff member during regular hours.
Ballad For Bimshire by
This musical by Lofton Mitchell and Irving Burgess from the 1960s, which was set in the Caribbean, starred Ossie Davis, Frederick O'Neal, Christine Spencer, and Jimmy Randolph
A Hand is on the Gate
"A Hand is on the Gate" (1966) weaved poetry from writers including Paul Dunbar Lawrence, Langston Hughes and others with songs concerning the Black American experience. Cicely Tyson, Josephine Premice, Roscoe Lee Brown, Moses Gunn, Gloria Foster, James Earl Jones and Leon Bibb starred in this musical.
Ain't Supposed To Die A Natural Death by
Melvin Van Peebles authored "Ain't Supposed to Die A Natural Death" a musical which examined Black urban life and it starred Arthur French, Minnie Gentry, Dick Anthony Williams, Beatrice Winde and others.
Me and Bessie by
Performer Linda Hopkins paid tribute to blues singer Bessie Smith in the 1970s musical "Me and Bessie."
Black Nativity, Gospel on Broadway!
This musical which was produced in the early 1960s and contains a libretto by Langston Hughes is one of the earliest examples of a gospel musical. This was one of many musicals helmed by Vinnette Carol, who is credited with being one of the first Black women directors on Broadway.