The Penumbra Theatre was founded in 1976 by Artistic Director Lou Bellamy to create a forum for African-American voices in the Twin Cities’ well-respected theater community. Through its commitment to provide realistic, inspirational works that redefine the consciousness of its audience, the Penumbra quickly garnered praise and a loyal following.
Over the years that followed, Penumbra Theatre Company lived up to its mission of presenting artistically excellent productions that depict emotional, relevant, and valuable experiences from an African American perspective. It has achieved national recognition for its quality productions and leadership role in launching the career of many respected playwrights, including two-time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson.
As Penumbra has grown, so has our impact on the community. In addition to performing before 40,000 people of all backgrounds every year, our Educational and Outreach activities impact more than 5,000 students each year. We employ more actors, choreographers, dancers, directors, and administrators of color than all other theatres in Minnesota combined.
Penumbra remains an active member of the Selby/Dale neighborhood and surrounding community. By maintaining a strong physical link to our environment, Penumbra fulfills one of its main objectives: to serve as an educator, employer and inspirational model for the community whose stories we tell.
Our role was recognized in January of 2000, when Danny Glover presented us with the Jujamcyn Award in New York City. As a recipient of the national award for the development of artistic talent, we join an exclusive list of top regional theaters that includes the Yale Repertory Theater and The Mark Taper Forum. Penumbra has also been named “Best Theatre for Drama” by City Pages and “One of Ten Companies that Make a Difference” by Stage Directions Magazine.
Today, Penumbra Theatre Company is Minnesota’s only professional African American theatre, and is one of only three professional African American theaters in the nation to offer a full season of performances. Under Bellamy’s quarter century of continuous leadership, Penumbra has stayed on the cutting edge of the national theatre scene and continues to present groundbreaking productions.
41ST SEASON: CROSSING LINES
Color, culture, sexuality, class. What happens when we dare to cross society’s difficult divides? This season, Penumbra presents stories of people fighting to be seen, accepted, respected, and loved — not as the world dictates, but as they are. Join us to celebrate the struggles and strength of those who don’t live inside the lines.
Penumbra Theatre produces artistically excellent, thought-provoking, relevant art that illuminates the human condition through the prism of the African American experience.
Penumbra’s Let’s Talk Series creates space for compassionate and challenging conversations around issues of social justice, equity, and the arts. Hosted by Sarah Bellamy, the event begins at 6:00pm with refreshments and light bites, followed by a 90-minute presentation and discussion.
Join us for film screenings followed by provocative discussion about the themes. REEL Talks are free, but reservations are required. Each event begins at 7:00pm.
“Penumbra Theatre is a classical, historical and, cultural mecca that allows for a platform for Black people to work, create...to thrive as artists.”
—PaviElle French, Emmy Award-Winning Artist