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.
In loving memory, Penumbra honors and celebrates the life of Claude Purdy

"Claude Purdy was an incomparable artist and gentle teacher. A close friend and compatriot of my father, Claude was like an uncle to me. I remember once in rehearsal for Joe Turnerís Come and Gone, Claude called me to his side and said, 'watch.' As if by magic the stage grew warm with light and the actress who stood in relief upstage came alive without moving. 'Isn't she beautiful?' he whispered. 'Thatís it. That's it!' A visual director, Claude painted African American life with a careful palette and created tableaus onstage that would arrest the breath. He understood what August Wilson called 'the song,' he understood tragedy. He understood the brokenness of survival and the relief of laughter. He could find the nerve center of a story and draw it out for the audience with the precision of a surgeon. He was masterful in his craft.

Yet Claude was shy and received critical acclaim with graceful humility. He was jovial, kind and was known for a signature rasping laugh. He loved to banter with his friends and fellow company members at Penumbra, but when it was time to work, Claude was all business. He commanded a kind of respect that very few directors enjoy. Actors trusted him, gave over to him, and he drew dimensionality and depth from them. He left an indelible mark upon the skin of the world. He laid the groundwork for countless artists. His legacy saturates the brick and mortar of Penumbra Theatre Company and beats in the hearts of those he leaves behind. How fleeting, life. The tallest trees taken by the wind. May the wind lift your limbs toward peace, Claude."
          - Sarah Bellamy, Education Director


"Claude Purdy was without a doubt one of the most underrated and underappreciated national theatre artists. Although I did not get to see Claude often he was always open to share information and knowledge not just with me, but with most people who cared about making art.

He was respected by theatre makers across the country. Talking to people in the business, whenever conversations would get to who could 'deal' as a director Claude was always at the top of anyone's list. Claudeís honesty made his art flourish, but was not always met with warmth by people in power in the American Theatre. Many theatre producers want their Black men and women to enter the door with 'hat in hand' and that was never Claude. In Black Theatre, Claude's name would be brought up, and he had the reverence of a practitioner that if you knew what you were doing, you had to know. He wasn't as famous as other directors, but the respect was always there. In the same way that fans would know Fats Waller as a pianist, players knew Bud Powell. This is a large loss in the theatre and more people need to know about it.

I probably got to interact with Claude most intensely at the Black Theatre Retreat at Dartmouth College after August Wilson made the call at a TCG conference. I realize that for me, one of his greatest attributes was that he was 'all about the art.' Claude cared about the career, and the friendships, but his motivation seemed to me to put the Black experience on stages and not to water it down. Not to sugar coat anything. If the truth went down hard, that might just be some 'hard going down truth.'

During the early years of Penumbra, when Lou was acting more, I believe that it was he and Horace Bond who were the primary directors. I am certain that it helped build the signature style that Penumbra has been known for over the years." 
          - Dominic Taylor, Associate Artistic Director



Claude Purdy dead at 69
by Rohan Preston, Star Tribune, July 28, 2009

Penumbra actor/director Claude Purdy dies
by Dominic P. Papatola, Pioneer Press, July 28, 2009
 
Lou Bellamy on Claude Purdy - August 3, 2009
Penumbra founding Company member, Claude Purdy, passed away Monday, July 27, 2009. A talented artist and teacher, Purdy mentored many actors and directors throughout the United States. Credited with bringing August Wilson to St. Paul, Purdy directed Wilson's first professional production, Black Bart and the Sacred Hills at Penumbra Theatre in 1982. Purdy worked closely with August Wilson, Lou Bellamy and Penumbra company members, and he was pivotal in the founding years of Penumbra Theatre. His contributions to the theatre community are invaluable.

Lou Bellamy remembers director, mentor Claude Purdy
Euan Kerr, All Things Considered, August 3, 3009

 
Lou Bellamy and David Alan Anderson on WCCO - March 24, 2009
"This year marks the 50th anniversary of 'A Raisin in the Sun,' a story about a working class black family struggling to make a decision about a large amount of insurance money."

'A Raisin in the Sun' dazzles at the Guthrie
by Angela Davis

WCCO, March 24, 2009

 
Lou Bellamy on MPR's Midmorning - March 10, 2009
Lorraine Hansberry's play, "A Raisin in the Sun" turns 50 years old. The Penumbra Theatre Company has a new interpretation of the classic play about the American racial divide. Penumbra's artistic director Lou Bellamy joins Midmorning to talk about the new production.

Lou Bellamy on a classic American play
Kerri Miller, Midmorning, March 10, 2009

 
Rented Bodies: A Social Change Project by Macalester Ambassador Rachel Bernstein - March 6, 2009

"Does life imitate art? Or does art imitate life? Rachel Bernstein, attempts to make life and art one in a production she is directing called "Rented Bodies." The show is loosely based upon the musical, "Rent." However, Bernstein has found a way to make the once controversial production fresher and more personal."

Blurring the lines between life and art: 'Rented Bodies'
Tatiana Craine, The Mac Weekly, March 6, 2009

Rented Bodies
8:00pm, Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Weyerhaeuser Chapel, Macalester College
Free and Open to the Public

 
Penumbra drama tackles historical minefield of black-Jewish relations - February 20, 2009
"Playwright Matthew Lopez is neither black nor Jewish. But that did not stop him from wading into the historical minefield of black-Jewish relations in his Civil War-era drama '"The Whipping Man.'"

Penumbra drama tackles historical minefield of black-Jewish relations
by Rohan Preston

Star Tribune, February 20, 2009

 
Radio Golf has been moved to kick off the 2009-2010 season! - February 12, 2009

Penumbra's Board and Staff felt the decision to move Radio Golf to open the 2009-2010 season was the best way to protect the artistic excellence and integrity of the production, and to demonstrate the company's continued commitment to fiscal responsibility, especially during these difficult economic times. We remain committed to producing the entire 20th Century Cycle by August Wilson, and now plan to present one Wilson play per year for the next few seasons. We thank you for your understanding and continued support in our efforts to build for our future. (press release)

If you currently hold tickets for Radio Golf, you will be receiving a letter from the Box Office detailing your options.

If you have questions, contact the Box Office at 651-224-3180 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or the managing director at 651-288-6780 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

 
Penumbra cuts back, delays Wilson play - February 12, 2009
"Penumbra Theatre Company announced Wednesday that it's cutting its budget by a quarter. The company also plans to delay its final play of the 2008-09 season."

Penumbra cuts back, delays Wilson play
by Dominic P. Papatola

Pioneer Press, February 12, 2009

 
Penumbra eyes economy, slashes budget 24% - February 11, 2009
"The preemptive steps are designed to preserve the theater's core mission, maintain artistry."

Penumbra eyes economy, slashes budget 24%
by Rohan Preston

Star Tribune, February 11, 2009

 
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