Six sheets, including two duplicate sheets, 122 different images showing some of the actors backstage preparing for their performances: one group of 30 shots of a dapper African American man in a bowler hat, with cane and cigar; another series of 36 shots showing an actor's transformation through the use of make-up into an older woman with a wig and wide-brimmed flowered hat.
The Negro Ensemble Company was founded in 1967 by African American producer and actor Robert Hooks and playwright Douglas Turner Ward. Their intent was to showcase African American actors, writers, set designers, etc. and to produce works focusing on the black experience. By the 1972-73 season, however, increased production costs, the need to expand their theater venue, and end of their three year Ford Foundation grant made it difficult to continue. The resident company disbanded and productions were cut back. Only one new show was mounted in that year, Joe Walker's "The River Niger," but it became the first of the company's productions to move to Broadway where it won the Tony Award for Best Play. Since then, the Negro Ensemble Company's reputation has continued to grow and receive wide recognition for its excellence in theater.
These sheets are part of a larger group of Harris' contact sheets, contained in a ring binder. The other images show what appear to be acting or dancing classes of both white and black young adults, as well as a series of photos of science projects and experiments done by children in a classroom. Item #63693