Playwrights, Composers, Lyricists and Authors
Loften Mitchell was nominated for a Tony Award in 1976 for his book for the musical ''Bubbling Brown Sugar,'' a collage of black music and dance starring Avon Long, Josephine Premice, Vivian Reed and Joseph Attles. The show ran for 776 performances and later toured the United States. He also wrote ''A Land Beyond the River'' and other plays. In his 1975 book, ''Voices of the Black Theater,'' Mr. Mitchell gathered testimony from other pivotal figures, including Ruby Dee, Vinnette Carroll and Frederick O'Neal. In his foreword to that book, Ossie Davis said that Mr. Mitchell was the ''heart and soul'' of the black tradition, and that ''it is hard to imagine theater in Harlem at all without him.'' Mr. Mitchell was born in Columbus, N.C., and grew up in Harlem. After studying playwriting at City College, he graduated from Talladega College in Talladega, Ala., and then earned a master's degree from Columbia University. In 1957, after several of his plays were presented in Harlem, he achieved wider recognition with ''A Land Beyond the River,'' which ran for 96 performances off Broadway at the Greenwich Mews Theater. ''A Land Beyond the River,'' about a South Carolina pastor who fought for desegregation, was based on the life of the Rev. Joseph A. DeLaine. Robert Graham Brown played the leading role, and Diana Sands was featured in the cast. Later Mr. Mitchell and Irving Burgie collaborated on the book for Mr. Burgie's 1963 Off Broadway musical, ''Ballad for Bimshire,'' which starred Mr. O'Neal and Mr. Davis. Mr. Mitchell also wrote ''Star of the Morning'' (about the life of the comedian Bert Williams) and the book ''Black Drama.'' For many years he taught at the State University of New York at Binghamton, and he was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. In ''Voices of the Black Theater,'' Mr. Mitchell said that he was ''overjoyed to note the upsurge of the black theater movement,'' and added, ''We shall keep on changing things until there is total victory over the bigots who have relegated a vital part of American theater to a corner of the American experience.'' For many years he taught at the State University of New York at Binghamton, and he was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. Loften Mitchell, a playwright, author, teacher and an early leader of the black theater movement, died in Queens, where he lived. He was 82.