Shandell Contributes to ‘The Cambridge Companion to African American Theatre’

By JoLynne Bremmer | November 29, 2012

Dr. Jonathan Shandell contributed to The Cambridge Companion to African American Theatre.  His article, “The Negro Little Theatre Movement,” traces the flourishing of numerous small, independent African American theatre companies founded the first half of the 20th Century (primarily in the 1910s-1930s).

These companies responded to the social, cultural and political needs of black communities; became vehicles for authentic self-expression by African American actors, playwrights and other theatre artists; and worked to combat the history of racist caricature and stereotypes that had developed in the professional American theatre of the era.

“I trace the philosophies and artistic impact of these theatre companies, whose influence helped transform the American theatre for decades to come, and continues to be seen and debated today,” says Shandell.

The Cambridge Companion to African American Theatre is part of the prestigious Cambridge Companion series published by the Cambridge University Press. This volume was edited by Dr. Harvey Young, Associate Professor of Theatre at Northwestern University. Young writes in his introduction, “In this book, thirteen prominent historians and critics of African American theatre offer engaged and close readings of specific theatrical movements, genres and plays that were instrumental to the development of Black theatre. … The chapters inform one another and, together, offer a full and detailed chronological mapping of African American theatre from the 1800s to today.”