Arts and Entertainment


What black woman ran a professional stock dramatic company in the early 1900s?

Anita Bush (1883–1974), dancer and actress, organized the Anita Bush Players in 1915 and became the first black woman to run a professional black stock dramatic company in the United States. Her company was also the first stock company in New York since the African Players of 1821. The players opened at New York City’s Lincoln Theater on November 15, 1915, with The Girl at the Fort. They had a short but successful run, and by December 27, 1915, had transferred to the larger Lafayette Theatre, where they became the Lafayette Players. Bush grew up in Brooklyn and began to appear on stage when she and her sister had roles as extras in Antony and Cleopatra. She joined Williams and Walker Company when she was sixteen and toured England with them in the smash hit In Dahomey. She formed her own dance group about 1909 and toured with the four or five other women members until she was injured in a serious accident in 1913. After the Anita Bush Players ended its short life, Bush continued to perform.


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