Abdul El Razzac and James Craven of Penumbra Theater. Photo by Ann Marsden.

It's been a privilege to produce this upcoming documentary special featuring the story of St. Paul's own nationally recognized Black theatre company - Penumbra Theatre - now celebrating its 34th Anniversary as the only Twin Cities theatre producing plays by, of and for the African-American community, but beloved by all theatre-goers everywhere.

Among its laurels is its record of 27 world premieres of important plays by Black playwrights and the starting place for many of the plays penned by the late August Wilson, most of them produced in larger, regional venues and presented on Broadway and in film. Here at Penumbra is where it started not just for August Wilson, who wrote many of his scathing insights into the Black culture in every decade of the 20th Century in restaurants and coffee shops along Selby Avenue in St. Paul, but of many other contributors to the Black experience and translated on-stage. We meet many members of the highly revered company of actors and performers, each of them, "stars in their own right," says founding Artistic Director Lou Bellamy.

In this special, we hear of the roots of this Black theatre company from a of Hallie Q. Brown Settlement House, now Community Center, through its formation as a professional theatre company, unique in the robust Twin Cities theatre community back in 1975 for its focus on Black playwrights dating to 1858, and the authenticity of the Black experience down through the ages as well as in contemporary - and not so enlightened America. Penumbra is the foremost premiering theatre of August Wilson's PulitzerPrize-winning plays, as well as those of of other prominent Black playwrights.

Written, Produced and Directed by Andy Driscoll

Featured guests:

Lou Bellamy, Artistic Director, Penumbra Theater

James Craven, Company Member

Abdul Salaam El Razzac, Company Member

Faye Price, Company Member

T. Mychael Rambo, Company Member

Austene Van, Company Member