Loften Mitchell labels the years 1909 to 1917 as the First Harlem Theatre Movement. The first Black Theatre, The Crescent, was established in Harlem. Black shows were being moved from The Crescent to the now famous Lafayette Theatre, and The Drama Committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People of Washington, DC (Laura B. Glenn, Clara B. Bruce, E. C. Williams, Anna J. Cooper, Carrie W. Clifford, Georgia Frazier, E. E. Just, Montgomery Gregory, and Alain Locke) produced the first successful drama written by a Black person and interpreted by Blacks, Rachel by Angelina Grimke. In addition, Ridgley Torrence, a white poet in association with Mrs. Norman Hapgood presented the Hapgood Players, all Blacks, in a program of three one-act plays written for the Negro theatre. These three one-acts gave the world the first authentic drama of Black life. Mr. Torrence on seeing his plays Granny Maumee, The Rider of Dreams and Simon the Cyrenian, stated, I have sometimes imagined that the Negro, other things being equal, might produce the greatest, the most direct, the most powerful drama in the world.
The first Black drama group was also established at Howard University within the First Harlem Theatre Movement. Ernest Everett Just and a group of students formed the College Dramatic Club. The College Dramatic Club, although financially successful, had a repertoire very similar to that of the African Grove. Rather than Black plays, they presented Shakespearean dramas and other English works. It was not until 1919, almost the beginning of the Harlem Renaissance that Black drama reached its zenith in the country and at Howard University.