Posted on: April 22, 2021
Rachel was first produced in March of 1916 by the Drama Committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) at the Myrtilla Miner Normal School in Washington, D.C. The production’s purpose was to provide a counter-narrative to the 1915 film The Birth of a Nation. The NAACP sought to have the film banned and used the production of Rachel to build support for the cause.
This original production included the following quote in its playbill, which set forth the play’s intentions in no uncertain terms: “This is the first attempt to use the stage for race propaganda in order to enlighten the American people relative to the lamentable condition of the ten million of colored citizens in this free Republic.”
Rachel was subsequently produced in 1917 at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York, and then published by the Boston-based Cornhill Company in 1920. More recently, it has been produced at such companies as the Finborough Theatre in London (2014), New Brooklyn Theatre in New York City (2015), and Quintessence Theatre Group in Philadelphia (2020). ♦
Read more: Timeline of Black American Theatre
Read more: Literary Ancestry Essay Series
Read more: Recommended Plays and Further Reading
“Angelina Weld Grimké’s Rachel.” Quintessence Theatre Group.
BWW News Desk. “Santoya Fields to Lead RACHEL at New Brooklyn Theatre; Cast Announced!”. Broadway World, 6 July 2015.
DeMattio, S. J. “Angelina Weld Grimké: June 6, 1880 - December 7, 1958.” Lost Voices in Black History. Mint Theatre Company.
Grimké, Angelina Weld. Rachel. 1920. Oberon Books, 2014.
Lehr, Dick and Pfeiffer, Lee. "The Birth of a Nation". Encyclopedia Britannica, 23 Mar. 2020.
Nolan, Rachel. “Uplift, Radicalism, and Performance: Angelina Weld Grimké's Rachel at the Myrtilla Miner Normal School.” Legacy, vol. 35, no. 1, 2018, pp. 1–24. Storm, William.
“Reactions of a ‘Highly Strung Girl’: Psychology and Dramatic Representation in Angelina W. Grimké’s Rachel.” African American Review, vol. 27, no. 3, 1993, pp. 461-471.
Sutherland, Claudia. “Angelina Weld Grimké (1880-1958).” BlackPast.org, 15 Feb. 2007.