Karamu House, first Black Theater Company in America
The founding of the Karamu House in 1915 is celebrated on this date. Located in Cleveland, OH, the Karamu house is the oldest Black Theater Company in America.
Its first home was in an area of Cleveland called "The Roaring Third,” at the corner of East 38th and Central Avenue. The word Karamu comes from a Swahili word meaning "a place of feasting and enjoyment in the center of the community." The group was originally named the Dumas Drama Club, but the name was changed to the Gilpin Players after actor Charles Gilpin visited the group in 1923. The group name was changed to the Karamu Players in the 1940s and more "integrated" casting policy was encouraged.
Famous playwrights whose works were produced by the Karamu Theater include Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and Lorraine Hansberry. Today, Karamu offers art experiences for people of all ages through a variety of programs. The three primary program areas are the Early Childhood Development Center, the Center of Arts and Education, and the Karamu Performing Arts Theatre. It has classes for children, and an active seniors program. Karamu explores a broad range of the African American experience Through its many programs.
2355 East 89 Street
Cleveland, Ohio 44l06
Actor, educator, playwright and director Harry Waters Jr. shares some of his views on where theater has been in the African American community and where he would like it to go.