In 1971, the DC Black Repertory Company became Washington’s premier Black cultural institution. In those days of infancy, the company, popularly known as “the Rep” struggled to institutionalize Black theater in the nation’s capital. It would meet the success in its efforts to create a theatre-going population among Washington’s Black residents. Photo from “Day of Absence” by Oggi Oburn.
In 1971, the DC Black Repertory Company became Washington’s premier Black cultural institution. In those days of infancy, the company, popularly known as “the Rep” struggled to institutionalize Black theater in the nation’s capital. It would meet the success in its efforts to create a theatre-going population among Washington’s Black residents.
A photo of Robert Hooks (top left), as part of the founding management team of the DC Black Repertory Company. (Courtesy DC Black Repertory Alumni Association)
Here’s a Throwback photo image of two brilliant actresses and me from Jean Genet’s classic play “The Blacks”, a DC Black Repertory Company production at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. It was the first (and only) time I actually performed with my young theatre company. On the left is the amazingly talented Janifer Baker, who played “Virtue”, and to the right is the classy and beautiful Dee Porter as the “White Queen”. We were the first Black theatre company to ever perform at- and co-produce with the legendary Kennedy Center. It was a memorable run and a fabulous experience for our young theatre company. Bravo DCBRC!
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his extraordinary First Lady Coretta Scott King visiting backstage after an inspired (because THEY were in attendance) performance of Jean Genet’s “The Blacks” (circa 1963). It was at dinner that night that Martin encouraged me to continue to create Black theatre for our communities and the larger world because it was a political act as much as any march or demonstration was. BTW, Coretta demonstrated her innate acting chops (as she had also been a singer earlier in her life) during one on my character’s provocative and flirtatious monologues. Normally addressed to a random female in the audience, it took all my impulsive courage to address it to her in the first row and she was magnificent in her theatricality, and Martin was encouraging, smiling, and fascinated.
Kevin Hooks, Maya Angelou, and Robert Hooks
3 generations of Hooks filmmakers with Robert Hooks, Michael Cary Hooks, Christiana Hooks, and Kevin Hooks.
ARCHIVIST, HISTORIAN, and ARTiST
Dale Shields is a professor of theatre, director, and actor (Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway, and Regional).
The 2017 winner of The Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award®, 2017 and 2015 Tony® award nominee for the Excellence in Theatre Education Award, and the winner of the 2017 AUDELCO/"VIV" Special Achievement Award. On the web, he is the archivist and historian of Iforcolor.org and Black Theatre/African American Voices [Facebook] (theatre, music, and art). He has taught classes and workshops at SUNY Potsdam, Susquehanna University, Denison University, Randolph-Macon College, Macalester College, The College of Wooster, Ohio University, Wayne State University, and the Joseph Papp Public Theatre (New York Shakespeare Festival).
B.F.A. and M.F.A. degree from Ohio University.