Black Ensemble Theater Company Records
Scope and Contents
The Black Ensemble Theater was founded in 1976 by noted actress, producer and playwright Jackie Taylor. The collection includes reviews and promotional pieces for such productions as Taylor’s The Other Cinderella and Muddy Waters: The Hoochie-Coochie Man in addition to administrative, financial and outreach records dating from the company’s inception.
- Creation: 1976 - 2001
- Creation: Majority of material found within 1976 - 1990
Conditions Governing Access
Materials are open without restrictions
Conditions Governing Use
Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection
Biographical / Historical
The Black Ensemble Theater was founded in 1976 by Jackie Taylor, an award-winning playwright, actress, producer and director. Since its founding, the Black Ensemble has worked under a mission to “eradicate racism and its damaging effects upon our society through the utilization of theater arts” by producing original musicals and offering a variety of educational outreach programs. Black Ensemble grew from a small community arts organization to an internationally recognized arts institution. On November 18, 2011, the Black Ensemble Theater opened the doors to its first permanent home in Chicago’s diverse Uptown neighborhood, and where as of 2021, it continues to offer programming.
Each theater season, Black Ensemble has presented a series of original productions intended to be entertaining, educational and uplifting. Some of its most popular productions have been The Jackie Wilson Story and The Other Cinderella. Among the theater’s musicals that have toured, The Jackie Wilson Story had a four-week, sold-out run in 2003 at the famed Apollo Theater in New York.
Since 2004, many of Black Ensemble’s unique scripts have been developed by members of the Black Playwrights Initiative. The BPI is one of the many successful outreach programs that Black Ensemble has launched. Others include Strengthening the School Through Theater Arts, Plays with a Purpose and Theater for Special Women and Men. The programs, as described on their website, have been developed to “focus on low-income, underserved communities fostering more effective teaching and learning among our youth, their parents, their teachers and the communities in which they live.”
4 Linear Feet (in 7 boxes, includes 96 photographs, and 1 oversize folder)
Language of Materials
The Black Ensemble Theater was founded in 1976 by noted actress, producer and playwright Jackie Taylor. The collection includes reviews and promotional pieces for such productions as Taylor’s The Other Cinderella and Muddy Waters: The Hoochie-Coochie Man in addition to administrative and financial records dating from the company’s inception.
The Black Ensemble Theater Company Records are arranged in four series.
- Series 1: Black Ensemble Productions, 1976-2001
- Series 2: Administration, 1979-1990, undated
- Series 3: Financial, 1977-1991, undated
- Series 4: Outreach, 1979-1990, undated
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The materials in the collection were donated to the Special Collections and Preservation Division by Black Ensemble Theater Company founder Jackie Taylor in 1992 and 2004.
Videotapes have been removed to the Chicago Theater Videotape Collection
- Guide to the Black Ensemble Theater Company Records
- Original author unknown. Updated and ingested into ArchivesSpace by Sarah Zimmerman, 2021.
- circa 2004
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English
- 2021: Edited by Sarah Zimmerman in preparation for upload into ArchivesSpace, personnel files removed
Part of the Special Collections Unit at Harold Washington Library Center Repository
Harold Washington Library Center, 9th Floor
Chicago Public Library
400 S. State Street
Chicago IL 60605 United States