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The Foundry Theatre
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2002 Legacies Series

On Genet's "The Blacks"

Location

The Public Theater
The Legacies Series, an oral history project, features our theatre ‘elders’—actors, writers, directors, composers, designers and producers—working people who have kept alive a dedication to the precarious profession that is the theatre. The program honors their work by encouraging the passing on of their histories to those of us coming up after them.

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Overview

In collaboration with Margo Jefferson, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and cultural critic for The New York Times, Foundry presented this Legacies Series event, a celebration and reunion of the original New York cast of Jean Genet’s THE BLACKS.

 

Produced by Andre Gregory and Sidney Bernstein, and performed at the St. Marks Playhouse, the 1961 New York City premier of THE BLACKS had an astounding impact on New York City’s theatrical and cultural history. Genet’s profane and violent meditation on race and colonialism was incredibly controversial. THE BLACKS forever changed the Off Broadway theatre with its previously unparalleled commercial success, running for nearly four years and grossing over $500,000. THE BLACKS also helped launch the careers of many now legendary American artists. The production’s then relatively unknown cast included: Maya Angelou, Ethel Ayler, Godfrey Cambridge, Lou Gossett Jr., James Earl Jones, and Cicely Tyson, among others.