File id384193 - Handbill: the production of Langston Hughes’ play drums of Haiti in Detroit, Michigan

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Handbill: the production of Langston Hughes’ play drums of Haiti in Detroit, Michigan

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  • 15-17 April 1937 (Creation)

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1 item

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This double-sided handbill publicizes the upcoming production of Langston Hughes’ play Drums of Haiti by the Roxane Players in Detroit, Michigan on April 15-17, 1937. Hughes began to write this play in the late 1920s and originally entitled it “Emperor of Haiti,” given its focus on revolutionary leader and first Haitian head-of-state Jean-Jacques Dessalines. Hughes went on to spend three months in Haiti in 1931, when the country was still under a nineteen-year United States marine occupation. First presented in Cleveland, Ohio at the Playhouse Settlement in 1936, the Detroit production of Drums of Haiti the following year was directed by Elsie Roxborough, a student at the University of Michigan and founder of the Roxane Players. The play became a key source for the libretto that Hughes worked on with the composer William Grant Still and Verna Arvey for the opera Troubled Island, which the New York City Opera premiered in March 1949. Likewise focused on Dessalines and Haitian revolutionary history, this was the first grand opera by an African American composer to be mounted by a major opera company in the United States. It featured, as well, choreography by Jean-Léon Destiné and George Balanchine. - Kate Ramsey, Associate Professor, University of Miami Department of History - November 25, 2019. Project funded thanks to the Andrew W. Mellon CREATE Grant.

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