Dr. Shandell Provides Guidance on History of African American Theater in MSNBC Podcast

By Caitlin Burns | April 28, 2021

Associate Professor of Theatre Arts Jonathan Shandell provided research guidance for an episode of MSNBC’s podcast, “Into America,” a show about being Black in America. Into America produced a four-part series for Black History Month, “Harlem on my Mind,” which investigated the legacies of four important figures in Harlem’s cultural history. The fourth and final part of the series focused on Abram Hill, a subject of Shandell’s scholarship in African American theater history. Hill founded the American Negro Theatre, a neighborhood theater company that contributed to the launch of several important Black artists. 

In 2018, Shandell published a book on Hill and the theater, The American Negro Theatre and the Long Civil Rights Era. A producer from Into America connected with Shandell, who provided information and documents from his research. 

“Abram Hill is an important but unfamiliar figure in African American theater history,” said Shandell. “This podcast episode helps tell his story to a wider audience.”

In 2018, after the release of his book, Shandell was featured on an episode of the “New Books on African American Studies” podcast, where he analyzed how the theater company provided a formative space for African American actors to convey their experiences to audiences in the 1940s.