Vinnette Carroll

Trumpets of the Lord – Cicely Tyson – Adapted by Vinette Carroll from James Weldon Johnson’s God’s Trombone – Donald McKayle, director- Howard Roberts, musical direction – produced by Theodore Mann at the Astor Place Playhouse, NY – 1963 – Photo by Bert Andrews (1931 – 1993)

 There were other wonderful creations from our glorious little Urban Arts Corps Theatre: It’s So Nice To Be Civilized,When Hell Freezes Over, I’ll Skate,The Ups And Downs of Theophilus Maitland and Croesus And The Witch. Ms Carroll’s team of collaborators included Ms Micki Grant with whom she wrote and directed most of her plays, Mr. Chapman Roberts, Mr. Danny Holgate, Mr. George Broderick, Mr. Robert Charles (Our beloved Stage Manager and friend) The great Mr. H.B. Barnum, Mr. Alex and Mrs Alberta Bradford, Mr. Talley Beatty, Ms Mabel Robinson – And us kids: Clinton-Derricks Carroll, Cleavant Derricks, Nora Cole, Marilynn Winbush, Nat Morris, Every Hayes, Charlayne Woodard, Pat Heaven, Reginald Vel Johnson, Sam Barton, Jeffrey Anderson Gunter, Steve Semien and me. There were others who preceded us and some came after us but we were there during the great years of the reign of Vinnette Carroll and we were The Urban Arts Corps!

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Vinnette Carroll transitioned November 5, 2002 in Lauderhill, Florida.

 

Alex Bradford, Vinnette Carroll and Micki Grant

VINNETTE CARROLL (born March 11, 1922, New York, New York, U.S., died November 5, 2002, Lauderhill, Florida) was an American playwright, stage director, and actress. She was the first African American woman to direct on Broadway with the hit gospel revue Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope. The show, conceived by Carroll and with music and lyrics by Micki Grant, opened on Broadway in 1972 and was nominated for four Tony Awards. Her adaptation of The Gospel According to Matthew,  Your Arms Too Short to Box with God (also in collaboration with Grant), opened on Broadway in 1976 and was nominated for four Tonys. Although she was educated in psychology and for a time worked as a clinical psychologist, she left to pursue acting in 1948 when she recieved a scholarship to the Erwin Piscator dramatic workshop, where she studied with Lee Strasberg and Stella Adler. In 1967, Ms. Carroll founded the Urban Arts Corps, a New York-based training and producing organization devoted to supporting black and Hispanic theater and actors. As an actress, Ms. Carroll won an Emmy (Beyond the Blues, in 1964), an Obie (Moon on a Rainbow Shawl, in 1962) and was nominated for three Tony awards. In the 1980s, she moved to Florida where she ran the Vinnette Carroll Repertory Company from 1986 to 1997. She died of heart disease and diabetes in Lauderhill, Florida on November 5, 2002 at age 80.”