Advance ticket sales have ended but plenty of additional tickets remain available at the door.
Profs and Pints DC presents: “Washington’s Black Vaudeville,” a look at race relations on stage in D.C. in the Roaring Twenties, with Michelle R. Scott, historian and professor of African American history and American entertainment at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
The Theater Owner’s Booking Association, or T.O.B.A., was a national theater circuit that made black vaudeville theater and its blues music belters, slapstick comedians, and Charleston dancers famous in the United States at the height of the racially tumultuous 1920s. Its Eastern district headquarters operated from Washington D.C, and the city’s U Street was where many of its start acts perfected their talents.
Learn about this pivotal time in the cultural and racial history of Washington D.C. with Dr. Michelle Scott, author of T.O.B.A. Time: Black Vaudeville and the Theater Owner’s Booking Association in Jazz Age America.
Dr. Scott will discuss how the booking association arose through the interracial collaborations of Black and Jewish immigrant theater professionals who profited from the entertainment world as a business, but also combatted social injustice and racial disparity through the art of the early 20th century Black stage.
You’ll learn about the on-stage and off-stage narratives of Black entrepreneurs and race leaders like Sherman H. Dudley, who shaped the black vaudeville industry as a performer and later as an entrepreneur operating the Howard Theater and other businesses along Washington’s 7th Street corridor. The talk will get into vivid detail how circuit artists like Count Basie, Ethel Waters, and Cab Calloway performed at the nearly 100 African American serving theaters across the country, from Philadelphia’s South Street to Chattanooga’s Ninth Street.
Lovers of history and music will want to take in every note. (Advance tickets: $13.50 plus sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17, or $15 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later.)
Image: The Effie Mae Moore Troupe of the 1920s as photographed by the Scurlock Studio on Washington DC’s U Street. (National Museum of American History / Smithsonian Institution.)