Research Catalog

Negro Ensemble Company records

Title
Negro Ensemble Company records, 1967-1993.
Author
Negro Ensemble Company.
Supplementary Content
Finding aid

Items in the Library & Offsite


About 136 Items.
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Vol/DateFormatAccessStatusCall NumberLocation
102 aMixed materialRestricted useNew-in processSc MG 345 102 aSchomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
box 1Mixed materialRequest in advanceAvailableSc MG 345 box 1Offsite
box 2Mixed materialRequest in advanceAvailableSc MG 345 box 2Offsite
box 3Mixed materialRequest in advanceAvailableSc MG 345 box 3Offsite
box 4Mixed materialRequest in advanceAvailableSc MG 345 box 4Offsite
box 5Mixed materialRequest in advanceAvailableSc MG 345 box 5Offsite
box 6Mixed materialRequest in advanceAvailableSc MG 345 box 6Offsite
box 7Mixed materialRequest in advanceAvailableSc MG 345 box 7Offsite
box 8Mixed materialRequest in advanceAvailableSc MG 345 box 8Offsite
box 9Mixed materialRequest in advanceAvailableSc MG 345 box 9Offsite
box 10Mixed materialRequest in advanceAvailableSc MG 345 box 10Offsite
box 11Mixed materialRequest in advanceAvailableSc MG 345 box 11Offsite
box 12Mixed materialRequest in advanceAvailableSc MG 345 box 12Offsite
box 13Mixed materialRequest in advanceAvailableSc MG 345 box 13Offsite
box 14Mixed materialRequest in advanceAvailableSc MG 345 box 14Offsite
box 15Mixed materialRequest in advanceAvailableSc MG 345 box 15Offsite
box 16Mixed materialRequest in advanceAvailableSc MG 345 box 16Offsite
box 17Mixed materialRequest in advanceAvailableSc MG 345 box 17Offsite
box 18Mixed materialRequest in advanceAvailableSc MG 345 box 18Offsite
box 19Mixed materialRequest in advanceAvailableSc MG 345 box 19Offsite

Details

Additional Authors
Description
180.8 linear. ft. (217 archival boxes, 4 flat boxes).
Subjects
Genre/Form
  • Scripts.
  • Theater programs.
  • Plays.
  • Scrapbooks.
  • Photographic prints.
Note
  • The Negro Ensemble Company records were accessioned by the Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in 1990 and 1995. Twenty-seven cartons of scripts arrived in August 1990, and seventy-six cartons of scripts and financial records arrived in December that same year. Additionally, fifty-five boxes, which had been stored by NEC at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts were accessioned in 1995. Some material was damaged during storage and was not recoverable. The records were divided into "Administrative" and "Financial" groups by the company.
  • Playscripts by playwrights with more than one play in the collection are cataloged in CATNYP, and are accessible by playwright's name, title of play, or by the call number Sc MG 345.
  • Photographs, slides and negatives have been transferred to the Photographs and Prints Division.
  • Posters have been transferred to the Art and Artifacts Division.
  • Video and audio tapes, reel-to-reel and films have been transferred to the Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division.
Access (note)
  • Personnel files and other files that contain private information are restricted and require permission of the Curator of the Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.
Source (note)
  • Negro Ensemble Company
  • Negro Ensemble Company
  • Negro Ensemble Company
Biography (note)
  • The Negro Ensemble Company (NEC) was a Black repertory company that presented works on social themes that were germane to Black life and expanded opportunities for experienced Black theatre artists. NEC was founded in 1967 by actor/playwright Douglas Turner Ward, actor Robert Hooks, and theatre administrator Gerald Krone, with a $434,000 grant from the Ford Foundation. The company offered professional training to potential new talent and for a brief time had a training company for both actors and technicians, thus promoting Black professionals in front of and behind the scenes.
Processing Action (note)
  • Accessioned
  • Accessioned
  • Processed
  • Cataloged
Call Number
Sc MG 345
Author
Negro Ensemble Company.
Title
Negro Ensemble Company records, 1967-1993.
Summary
The records of the Negro Ensemble Company (NEC), 1967-1993, document the work of the most successful African American theatrical company in the United States to date. In addition to information about the productions, the records also document the growth of the company through the development of its administrative structure and of the funding base that keeps a theatrical company alive. The collection is divided into three series, thirteen subseries, and eighteen sub-subseries.
The Administrative Files series consists of the files of the artistic director, board of directors, and managing directors, as well as administrative office files. The artistic director's files contain correspondence and a scrapbook for his pre-NEC productions, "Happy Endings" and "Day of Absence." In addition there are letters from playwrights and a script log with information on the scripts that were on file with the production office.
The Board of Directors subseries documents the founding of the board and many of the major decisions made by the company and provides an overview of all that the NEC aspired to accomplish. Lists of funding sources and amounts granted are often included as is other financial information, correspondence, and clippings.
The Managing Directors Files, 1978-1991, document Gerald Krone's tenure, 1979-1981, and that of Leon Denmark, 1981-1989. Files include information about the Feasibility Study (1981) that examined a move to a larger theater, the NEC Needs Assessment of 1988, and the Ford Foundation Report Summary from 1983. Files of note include the records of the McDonald's Literary Awards Contest which was created to support and encourage amateur authors, playwrights, and poets, and was administered by Denmark. Also included is information about the Bert Andrews Project, which was created to assist in rebuilding Andrews's collection of theater stills that were destroyed in a fire.
The Administrative Office Files, 1975, 1980-1989 subseries, contain five sub-subseries: Alphabetical File, General Files, Development Department, Marketing Department, and Selected Personnel (Restricted Access) files. In these files are housed budgets, 1986-1991, correspondence, 1971-1988, Ford Foundation Reports, 1979-1980, the NEA Institutional Advancement Grant and Follow-up folders, fund raising materials, information about benefits, press releases, and personnel information for selected company players, authors and administrative staff. More information about both the Marketing and Development departments is available in the Financial Records series.
The Production Series, 1966-1990, documents the performance life of the Negro Ensemble Company. This series is made up of six subseries: Season Files, Broadway Files, Tour Files, Clippings, Play Scripts, Special Projects, and Restricted Files. The Play Scripts sub-subseries consists of scripts received by the NEC. Many are complete, final versions and many are not. The play scripts received by the company that were performed in a reading, a staged reading, or developed into a full production have been separated into three groups: production, on-site and offsite scripts. Production scripts are those produced by NEC; they are annotated and are stored on-site. These scripts are listed in the finding aid. Additional on-site scripts are those by playwrights who have more than one script either read or produced by the company (e.g., Charles Fuller, Steve Carter). These on-site scripts are cataloged, and are accessible by playwright's name, title of play, or by the call number: Sc MG 345. The last group, off-site play scripts, are unannotated, the authors of these plays have only one title in the entire collection, and it does not appear that the plays were read or produced. A full listing of these latter plays is included in the finding aid.
The final series, the Financial Records series, 1967-1991, partially documents the development and management of the company's funding base, its financial administrative structure, and its earned and unearned income. The series is divided into three subseries: Fiscal Management, Marketing and Subscriptions and Development/Fund Raising.
The Fiscal Management subseries, 1967-1992, contains information about audits, box office receipts, and budgets. The Marketing and Subscriptions Files, 1975-1990, subseries coincides with the NEC's most successful years, 1982 to 1985. This subseries contains information about advertising, group sales, marketing questionnaires, subscription campaigns, theatre parties, general activities of each department, and correspondence generated by the directors, managers and coordinators in both departments. The subseries Development/Fund Raising, 1967-1991 contains information about benefits, corporate, foundation, government and individual financial support. Included are grant proposals including the National Endowment for the Arts 4-year Advancement Grant and reports to NEC's funders.
Access
Personnel files and other files that contain private information are restricted and require permission of the Curator of the Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.
Biography
The Negro Ensemble Company (NEC) was a Black repertory company that presented works on social themes that were germane to Black life and expanded opportunities for experienced Black theatre artists. NEC was founded in 1967 by actor/playwright Douglas Turner Ward, actor Robert Hooks, and theatre administrator Gerald Krone, with a $434,000 grant from the Ford Foundation. The company offered professional training to potential new talent and for a brief time had a training company for both actors and technicians, thus promoting Black professionals in front of and behind the scenes.
The original NEC resident company included among its ranks Esther Rolle, Rosalind Cash, Hattie Winston, Moses Gunn, and Denise Nicholas. The Playwrights' Workshop trained and honed the writing skills of many playwrights, among them Charles Fuller ("A Soldier's Story"); Lonnie Elder, III ("Ceremonies in Dark Old Men"); Samm-Art Williams ("Home"); Derek Walcott ("Dream on Monkey Mountain"); and Steve Carter ("Nevis Mountain Dew").
The company formally inaugurated its first season in 1967-1968, with Peter Weiss' "Song of the Lusitanian Bogey," followed by "Summer of the Seventeenth Doll" by Ray Lawler, "Kongi's Harvest" by Wole Soyinka, and "Daddy Goodness" by Richard Wright. These plays were produced at NEC's first home theatre, St. Mark's Playhouse. In 1969, the company made its international debut during the World Theatre Season in London, England. That same year they also performed at Italy's "Premio Roma" Festival where they were awarded the "Premio Roma Award for Artistic Excellence and Production" for "Song of the Lusitanian Bogey." Throughout their existence, NEC's most popular productions such as "Ceremonies in Dark Old Men," "Home," and "Colored People's Time," either moved to Broadway and/or toured nationally and internationally.
"A Soldier's Play" was the most successful production mounted by the company. The property was also made into a film titled "A Soldier's Story" in 1984, starring Denzel Washington and Adolph Caesar, who originated his role on Broadway. NEC also brought several of their productions to television including "Sty of the Blind Pig," by Philip Hayes Dean, (PBS, 1974); "Ceremonies in Dark Old Men," by Lonnie Elder, III (ABC-TV, 1975); and "First Breeze of Summer," by Leslie Lee, (PBS, 1976).
Despite box office successes, by the mid 1980s losses in earned and contributed revenue led to an extreme drop off in activity. The 1986-1987 season was suspended and by the 1990s the company's production schedule was severely reduced.
Nevertheless the Negro Ensemble Company was the most successful Black theatrical company in the United States. It was the recipient of over 40 major theatre awards, including a Pulitzer Prize, two Tony Awards, thirteen Obie Awards, and the NAACP Image Award. Their most substantial contribution to the theatrical field was helping to train or launch the careers of dozens of actors, playwrights, directors and other theatrical professionals, many of whom achieved success, such as Denzel Washington, Samuel Jackson, and Charles Fuller. From 1967 to 1992, the NEC produced over 200 productions which includes full-length and one-act plays, and playwriting workshops.
Connect to:
Added Author
Ward, Douglas Turner.
Krone, Gerald S.
Denmark, Leon B.
Negro Ensemble Company.
Research Call Number
Sc MG 345
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