Melvin B. Tolson

[ 1898-1966 ]

Dillard Arts Festival Drama Calendar

May 4 - 5, 1938

from the of the Melvin B. Tolson Papers
at the Library of Congress Washington D.C.

   The reknowned educator and playwright S. Randolph Edmonds started the Dillard University Theater Department in 1935. Early on he realized the potential colleges & universities had to enrich contemporary theater culture from an African-American perspective. He founded the Southern Association of Dramatic and Speech Arts (SADSA) in 1936 at Dillard. It later became the National Association of Dramatic and Speech Arts (NADSA).

   The program below includes such theater luminaries as Charles Winter Wood and Thomas E. Poag, dancer & dance studio owner Miss Elma Moore, artist Aaron Douglas, and of course the poet & educator Melvin B. Tolson. Tolson not only directs the Wiley College Players but gives a lecture entitled "The Development of Dramatics in Southern Colleges". And High School students are not forgotten with an Interstate High School Festival and Conference on the program as well.

A. Clifton Myles provides a history of NADSA and SADSA in his dissertation: The Story of NADSA which is viewable online. This link is for Chapter 2, which covers Dillard, Edmonds, Poag and a brief mention of Tolson.