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*On this March date (National Theater Month), 1925, we celebrate the Krigwa Players.
Also known as the Krigwa Players Little Negro Theatre and named for the acronym CRIGWA: Crisis Guild of Writers and Artists) was one of the most prominent and popular theatre groups based out of Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance. Though it only lasted for three years, The Krigwa Players' impact was felt throughout Harlem and the cities it spawned offshoot projects into, these cities being Cleveland, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.
It was founded in 1925 by W.E.B. Du Bois and Regina Anderson, with Du Bois serving as the chairman of the theater group entirely. The theatre was converted from the basement of the 135th street Harlem Library. The goal of the company was focusing on creating, nurturing, developing, and promoting new writers, directors, performers, and actors within the black community. Starting in 1924, Amy Spingarn (wife of Joel Elias Spingarn) established an annual literary contest in The Crisis. Accepting submissions for fiction, essays, verse, and plays, this contest became the major source of new work for the Krigwa Players.
The company became sharply split after the tournament. Du Bois used the prize money to pay for the cost of the production and entering the tournament with no money going towards the performers. After this the company parted and went their separate ways. According to Eulalie Spence, the last official production of the Krigwa Players was Fool's Errand. Another group using the name Krigwa Players name emerged in 1928, but they were not affiliated with The Crisis or the original Krigwa Players. The legacy of the theater lead to subsequent groups filling the space after its closure, with some being the Negro Experimental Players (1929), the Harlem Players (1931), and the American Negro Theater, which lasted 9 years, and ran the longest out of all the former theater companies.