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Penumbra Theatre Company opened with its first productions on this date in 1976. It was founded by artistic director Lou Bellamy to create a forum for Black voices in the St. Paul-Minneapolis theater community. From the beginning, it has been committed to providing realistic, inspirational works that inform and redefine the consciousness of its audience.
For over 40 years, Penumbra Theatre has created professional productions that are artistically excellent, thought provoking, relevant, illuminate the human condition through the prism of the Black experience, and promote social justice.
Penumbra offers practical training for the professional actor, director, choreographer, and designer, taught from a Black perspective. Penumbra's Summer Institute, for example, is a renowned program that links intense theater training with activism for students ages 13 to 18 to explore art as a tool to create social change.
The members of the company are so talented and well trained that that other theater companies throughout the country seek them out for their talent and experience. Penumbra plays an important role in giving ongoing training, education, and experience to actors, playwrights, and directors.
Penumbra has provided a consistently clear message that the Black experience is rich, dynamic, and critical to the American theater canon. It is one of the few surviving theaters that began during the Black Arts Movement in the 1970s. Penumbra is nationally and internationally recognized.