Black Theater in Chicago

Pekin Theatre Program

New Pekin Theatre, Count of no-account [date unknown] (cropped from original) Chicago Public Library Digital Collections: Chicago Theater Collection-Historic Programs

The roots of Black theater originated in early 19th century America, in minstrel shows performed by whites in blackface and later by Blacks. By the start of the 20th century, African Americans began writing, producing, and acting in their own musicals. Black theater companies emerged in major cities across the United States, including Chicago, giving the limelight to talented actors and playwrights whose work would otherwise go unnoticed. Following World War II, Black theater evolved further to reflect the ideals and social conditions of the times and to celebrate Black experiences as a vital part of the culture.

View the digitized Pekin Theatre program and other digital collections at CPL.

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