The American Negro Theatre (ANT) Photograph Collection documents some of the group's activities from the 1940s through the early 1950s. The collection contains individual and group portraits of actors, playwrights, producers, and agents, as well as images of productions which include scenes of theatrical productions and candid shots of actors off-stage.
Portraits comprise almost one-half of the collection and include individual portraits of playwright Abram Hill and actor Frederick O'Neal, co-founders of ANT.
Scenes comprise the remainder of the collection and document various productions of "Anna Lucasta," as well as "The Peacemaker," "On Striver's Row," (both 1940-41 and 1946 productions) and "3 Is a Family" (1943).
Biographical/historical: The American Negro Theatre (ANT) is considered to have been the foremost community theater organized and developed almost exclusively by African-Americans. The American Negro Theatre was established in 1940 in the basement of the 135th Street Branch Library, now the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. It was founded by playwright Abram Hill and actor Frederick O'Neal who were disillusioned with the limited opportunities for blacks in the theater. They created a cooperative environment that trained approximately 200 actors and technicians, introduced new playwrights, and staged over 325 performances which attracted some 50,000 patrons. According to Hill, four ANT productions transferred to commerical theaters: "Anna Lucasta," "Freight," "On Striver's Row" and "Walk Hard." Other ANT activities included a secondary level school of drama, the first to be incorporated by the New York City Board of Education; and a 30-minute weekly radio series, presenting both drama and opera. Harry Belafonte, Ruby Dee and Sidney Poitier all began their acting careers at ANT troupe members.
Extent: 24 items (.8 lin. ft., 1 box) 7 photographic prints : silver gelatin, b ; 26 x 21 cm. and smaller. 12 photographic prints : silver gelatin, b ; 21 x 26 cm. and smaller. 2 photographic prints : silver gelatin, b ; 21 x 13 cm. and smaller. 2 photographic prints : silver gelatin, b ; 13 x 19 cm. and smaller. 1 photocopy : b ; 22 x 28 cm.