Friday, January 29, 2010

Langston Hughes

James Mercer Langston Hughes, (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967) was born in Joplin, Missouri, but spent most of his childhood with his grandmother in Lawrence, Kansas. After her death, he eventually reunited with his mother and and they and his step-father moved to Cleveland, where he attended high school.
The Hughes' home in Cleveland was sold in foreclosure in 2009; the 2.5-story, wood-frame house on the city's east side was sold at a sheriff's auction in February for $16,667. - Wikipedia
Hughes had relocated to New York and gained success on Broadway with Mulatto, when he accepted the position of playwright in residence at Karamu House from 1936 to 1939, a position only recently-revived and currently held by Michael Oatman.

In 1936 alone several of his plays received world premieres, including Little Ham (opened March 24) about a Harlem numbers game. Plain Dealer critic William McDermott said, "as a folk-picture of Harlem life it is rich in character in humor."

Other premieres included When Jack Hollers (written with Arna Bontemps, the cast included Margaret Williams as Queen Esther, Jack Stewart as Bogator, Paul Banks as Rev. Lovelady, William Day as Jerico, Don McGregor as Sid Lowery and Nolan Bell as Arcie) and Troubled Island, a "historical panorama" about Haiti that had a cast of sixty-five and was later adapted into an opera by William Grant Still.

When I was an actor-educator at Karamu in 1991, the offices for the education department were in the space previously occupied by Hughes' old apartment.

To this day Karamu produces Langston Hughes' Black Nativity during the holidays.

Showtime in Cleveland

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