american-theatre

Black LBGTQ History Icons

Marsha P. Johnson

  • A leader of the Stonewall Riots. According to several eyewitnesses, Marsha was the one who “really started it”. She was “in the middle of the whole thing, screaming and yelling and throwing rocks and almost like Molly Pitcher in the Revolution or something”
  • Dedicated her life to activism:
    • Co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (later renamed Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries)
    • Ensured that the young drag queens, trans women and other street kids on Christopher Street were fed and clothed. Marsha also housed them whenever she could. 
    • In the 1980s, she was an activist and organizer in ACT UP. 

Stormé DeLarverie

  • Also a leader in the Stonewall Riots - has been identified as the “butch lesbian that threw the first punch” against the police officers.
  • Several eye-witnesses recollections also recognize her as the cross-dressing lesbian that yelled “why don’t you guys do something” at the bystanders that evoked the reaction from them that helped make Stonewall a defining moment in history.
  • Unofficially worked at gay bars who otherwise couldn’t afford security.

Bayard Rustin

  • Was a leading strategist of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement between 1955-1968:
    • The formidable behind the scenes figure of the civil rights movement who organized the March on Washington
    • Through his influence, the civil rights leadership adopted a non-violent stance.
    • Is and was often overlooked in African-American history because of the public’s discomfort with his sexual orientation.
  • Supported LGBTQ rights and movements.
  • Was posthumously awarded Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

Miss Major Griffin-Gracy

  • Another leader in the Stonewall Riots.
  • Has been involved in community efforts since 1978. She has worked at local food banks, provide services for trans women suffering from addiction or homelessness. During the AIDS epidemic she also provided healthcare and funeral services.
  • Is currently serving as the Executive Director for the Transgender GenderVariant Intersex Justice Project, working to assist transgender persons who are disproportionately incarcerated under a prison-industrial complex.

Alvin Ailey

  • At the young age of 22, Alvin AIley became Artistic Directer for the Horton Dance Company where he choreographed as well as directed scenes and costume designs.
  • Formed the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre in 1958 but continued to choreograph for other companies.
  • Ailey’s signature works prominently reflects his Black pride.
  • Is credited for popularizing modern dance. 
  • Was also posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

Feel free to add anyone I’ve missed!

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“Zoot Suit” by Luis Valdez

Mark Taper Forum, 2017

Starring Brian Abraham, Mariela Arteaga, Demian Bichir, Melinna Bobadilla, Oscar Camacho, Stephani Candelaria, Raul Cardona, Fiona Cheung, Tiffany Dupont, Caleb Foote, Holly Hyman, Kimberlee Kidd, Rocío López, Jeanine Mason, Tom G. McMahon, Andres Ortiz, Michael Naydoe Pinedo, Matias Ponce, Rose Portillo, Gilbert Saldivar, Richard Steinmetz, Evan Strand, Bradford Tatum, Raphael Thomas & Daniel Valdez

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“The Emperor Jones” by Eugene O’Neill

Irish Repertory Theatre, 2017

Starring Obi Abili, William Bellamy, Carl Hendrick Louis, Sinclair Mitchell, Angel Moore, Andy Murray & Reggie Talley

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“The Hairy Ape” by Eugene O’Neill

Park Avenue Armory, 2017

Starring Bobby Cannavale, David Costabile, Becky Ann Baker, Catherine Combs, Chris Bannow, Tommy Bracco, Emmanuel Brown, Nicholas Bruder, Phil Hill, Cosmo Jarvis, Mark Junek, Henry Stram, Jamar Williams, Isadora Wolfe & Amos Wolff

Vintage Movie Advertisements

We recently received a collection of great film advertisements that really blur the line between form and function. The three here are for films released in 1932. The movable features make perfect fodder for animated GIFs. It makes one wonder if these were put together by hand and how many were made.

“Strictly Dishonorable”

“Lady With a Past”

“Fireman Save My Child”

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“Twelfth Night” by William Shakespeare

Shakespeare in the Park, 2009

Starring Raúl Esparza, Herb Foster, Anne Hathaway, Jay O. Sanders, Julie White, Hamish Linklater, David Pittu, Audra McDonald, Michael Cumpsty, Charles Borland, Stark Sands & Jon Patrick Walker

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Something rare is happening in the world of ballet: At the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., two African-American dancers will be the leads in The Washington Ballet’s production of Swan Lake: Misty Copeland, soloist with American Ballet Theatre, will dance the dual role of Odette and Odile, while Brooklyn Mack of The Washington Ballet will dance Prince Siegfried.

Copeland and Mack have something in common that is also rare for young African-Americans: teachers who saw their potential early on and broke the unwritten rule that all ballet dancers must look alike.

Who Gets To Dance In ‘Swan Lake’? The Answer Is Changing

Photo credit: Emily Jan/NPR