This chapter focuses on Negro theater in Illinois. In May 1877, a Negro troupe played Out of Bondage in Chicago, and the Daily Inter Ocean described the performance as “one of the very best representations of slave life as it existed before the war that has ever been presented to the public.” But it was the arrival of Sam T. Jacks and his Creole Show in Chicago in 1893 that ushered in a new phase of the Negro's evolution in the theater. The chapter first considers minstrelsy and minstrel shows featuring actors in blackface before turning to various comedians, vocalists, and dancers who performed in musicals and other shows during the period, including Bert Williams and George Walker. It also looks at Chicago's Pekin Theater, opened by Robert Motts, that showcased black performers such as Charles Gilpin, Bill Robinson, Abbie Mitchell, Lottie Grady, Nettie Lewis, and Elizabeth Hart Scott.
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