This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.
Education & Outreach

Art plays a vital role in the creation of a healthy society. We believe in the power of art to affect social change. That is why Penumbra’s unique educational tools are designed to increase awareness and celebrate difference.

Our free study guides are a favorite of patrons and teachers. The guides let you dive into the rich historical details that contextualize each thought-provoking play. Teachers can combine standardized lesson plans with classroom workshops and post-show discussions, giving students an unparalleled opportunity to proactively confront issues of racism and social justice in a safe, supportive environment.

Summer Institute is an intensive theatre training program where junior high and high school students work with professional artists to build community and challenge ideas, using theatre to make a real difference in the world. Students write and perform in an original ensemble piece about issues important to them. After graduation, alumni work with staff mentors to create and execute social change projects inside their own communities. Dozens of these projects have been completed with astounding results.

Sarah Bellamy
Associate Artistic Director – Education
Education & Outreach

Horace J. Bond Ambassador Program - Macalester College, the University of Minnesota and Hamline University faculty select exceptional undergraduates who work with Penumbra to address social issues on campus.

Fellowships - Providing support for students from high school through graduate school to explore musical and dramatic theatre, literary criticism, and dramaturgy. 

Internships - Behind the scenes and close to the action, our internship programs give students the opportunity to work and learn at the same time.

Quilting Circle - A community experience you can look forward to annually. Learn new skills and make an original art piece that is featured in our holiday musical favorite, Black Nativity.

Salon Series - Guest lectures, roundtable discussions, symposia and post-play discussions offer patrons the opportunity to think critically about our art and continue the dialogue.

Student Matinees - Offering students ages 14 and up the opportunity to explore the African American experience through artistically excellent productions. Bring your students to see a show and stay afterwards for a post-play discussion.

Study Guides - Free and online, Penumbra’s study guides include contextual essays, artist interviews, and much more. Each guide includes curriculum for grades 9-12 by high school educators to enhance learning in your classroom!

Summer Institute - Training the next generation of activist artists! Students study the craft of performance while learning about social justice to promote change in their own communities.

The Wilson Lab - This archival project will preserve the legacy of the preeminent African American theatre company in the nation. The Lab will make personal interviews from founding company members, videography, literature and more available for research.

Workshops - Exploring the power of art to change lives and communities. Join us at the Science Museum of Minnesota or book your own RACE workshop today!

The Penumbra Theatre Company Quilt - See the quilt squares that now illuminate the walls of our theatre.

Meet the Education and Outreach Team!

SARAH BELLAMY - Associate Artistic Director - Education
Sarah has been leading the education and outreach initiatives for Penumbra Theatre since 2005. In that time, she has designed several programs that engage patrons in critical thinking, dialogue, and action around issues of race and social justice. Select programs include Penumbra's Race Workshop curated to accompany the Science Museum of Minnesota’s exhibit RACE: Are We So Different?, and the Summer Institute, a leadership development program for teens to practice art for social change. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, Sarah holds an M.A. in the Humanities from The University of Chicago.

CLARIBEL GROSS – Community Outreach Coordinator
Claribel is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where she studied Theatre Arts with an emphasis on performance. She has a strong interest in international development and working with communities through theatre, and has lived and worked in Ecuador where she used theatre as a tool to teach English as a Second Language. Claribel is happy to be back in the Twin Cities working with Penumbra where she puts her passion for arts education and development to use. Her primary role is connecting Penumbra’s student leaders with local advocacy and health and wellness organizations throughout the Twin Cities for internships and apprenticeship opportunities.

H. ADAM HARRIS – Teen Programs Coordinator
Adam is the Teen Programs Coordinator with Penumbra Theatre Company and a former Summer Institute Intern. As a professional actor, he was recently seen in How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Children’s Theatre Company); The Way of Water (Frank Theatre); Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Much Ado About Nothing, (Guthrie Theater); and Penumbra Theatre’s production of The Amen Corner at the Guthrie Theater. Adam received his B.F.A from the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater Actor Training Program along with a minor in African American Studies. Adam recently toured prisons, homeless shelters, and community centers in a production of The Seven with Ten Thousand Things Theater. His primary role is connecting passionate young leaders with Penumbra’s Summer Institute program and working with educators to bring theatre for social change into their classrooms.

JOSHUA WILDER – Education Associate
Josh Wilder is a playwright and teaching artist hailing from Philadelphia. He is the first national Jerome Many Voices Fellowship recipient at The Playwrights’ Center. Prior to moving to Minneapolis, Josh was a 2012-13 Theater Fellowship recipient at The August Wilson Center for African American Culture in Pittsburgh. Josh’s works have been developed at The Classical Theatre of Harlem, The Playwrights’ Center, The Lark and New York Theatre Workshop. He holds a BFA in Drama from Carnegie Mellon University.

SURAFEL WONDIMU ABEBE – August Wilson Fellow
Surafel a PhD candidate at the University of Minnesota in the Theatre Historiography Program minoring in Developmental Studies and Global Change and Cultural Studies. He is also an ICGC-Mellon Scholar Fellow at the University of Minnesota and University of Western Cape. Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Surafel obtained a degree in English Literature in 2006 and an MA in contemporary cultural studies at the Institute of Ethiopian Studies in 2010 at Addis Ababa University (AAU). Together with his colleagues, he opened the Holy Land Art Academy and co-founded a magazine called Infotainment that focused on art, politics, and society. He has served as a lecturer and assistant dean in Humanities at AAU and also ran a private media organization called Aesop Communication, along with a twelve year old radio program on FM 97.1. He also served as a consultant of a cultural forum headed by Selam Ethiopia whose head quarter was based in Stockholm, Sweden. He collaborated with East African, Swedish and American playwrights, actors and directors to stage international theatre festivals and conversations on theatre arts.

High School Curriculum Consultants, 2013-2014

Kimberly White Colbert
Kimberly has worked at St. Paul Central since 1994, where she started as a theater intern for Jan Mandell and the Central Touring Theatre. She volunteered there until receiving her MAT in English Language Arts and Speech Theater. Kimberly spent one year in Minneapolis Public Schools as a theater specialist before returning to St. Paul to join Central High's English Department. Kimberly has continued her connection to the arts through active involvement with Brown University's Arts Literacy Project, which imbeds performing and other art forms in literacy instruction. Prior to working at Central, Kimberly spent five years in Japan and Hawaii where she taught English and worked as a journalist for a local newspaper. In addition to teaching, Kimberly is active in union activities, currently serving on the boards of Education Minnesota and the National Education Association (NEA).

Brionna Harder
Brionna is a Social Studies teacher, proud member of Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and proud parent of a student at St Paul Open World Learning Community. With a passion for teaching Civics and Government, she has taught grades 9 through 12 in a variety of social studies courses at Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis. Throughout her fourteen year career, Brionna has been involved in a number of leadership opportunities in her school, union and district, motivated by an undying belief in the power of public education, the purpose of the teaching profession and the potential of young people learning to be actively engaged, loving critics of our society and our world.


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