Director In Residence
Artistic Director, 2003-Present
Terrence Spivey is a native of Kountze, Texas, and received his B.A. in Theatre Arts at Prairie View A&M University. While a student there, the theatre department made history as the first black college to perform a musical, “Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope” at the Kennedy Center during the American College Theatre Festival. After graduation, Spivey resided in New York for eighteen years. He appeared in numerous off off Broadway plays and stage readings such as “Stringbean” with Leslie Uggams at Lincoln Center. He also worked on the soaps and music videos such as No One in the World directed by Spike Lee and Fat Boys Lie-z and in indie horroro films and indies such as West New York w/Frank Vincent and Messenger based on Italian film classic The Bicycle Thief. He made his directorial debut with a one-man show at Crossroads Theatre in New Jersey. In 2001 he formed his own not-for-profit theatre company Powerful Long Ladder in Harlem that staged for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange.
The historical Karamu House invited Spivey to Cleveland during the 2002/03 season to guest direct Carlyle Brown’s The Little Tommy Parker Celebrated Colored
Minstrel Show. In Fall 2003, Mr. Spivey relocated to Cleveland to accept the position
as Artistic Director to program and oversee the fame institution’s theatre component.
Below are a few highlights nearing his tenth year at Karamu.
He directed the Midwest premier of Thomas Gibbon’s bee luther hatchee during the 2003/04 season and received rave reviews. He opened the 2004/05 season directing his NYC staging of for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf Former Plain Dealer critic Tony Brown, quoted "Glory be! Karamu, the oldest black theater in the country, has returned to its rightful place as one of the most exciting venues in Cleveland.”
In the 2005/06 season, Spivey directed the ambitious Dream on Monkey Mountain, a reprisal of Derek Walcott’s allegorical drama. Christine Howey of Cleveland Scene quoted, "Folklore and dreamscapes combine to forge a performance that is at times engrossing and viscerally stimulating. Spivey and his choreographic partner, G. Carlos Henderson, create some soul-stirring spectacles of motion on the Jelliffe Theatre stage.” The play was voted Best Drama in Cleveland by Scene magazine
Under his artistic leadership, Karamu premiered several new works in Ohio such as John Henry Redwood’s No Niggers No Jews No Dogs, Jonathan Reynold’s Stonewall Jackson’s House, Guggenheim fellow Dianne McIntyre’s Daughter of a Buffalo Soldier and the hit comedy/drama Johnny Taylor is Gone by rising young playwright Gregory S. Carr. In May 2006, Spivey directed the staged reading of Bridgette Wimberly's Saint Lucy's Eyes starring Academy Award nominee Ruby Dee and Karamu alum Bill Cobbs at the Cleveland Play House‘s first annual FusionFest. In addition, the summer of 2006, he served as theatre curator for the second annual Ingenuity Arts and Technology Festival. At Ingenuity, two Karamu productions were featured: the Ohio premiere of Al Letson’s Julius X and the world premiere of Je’ Franklin’s A Hip Hop Aesop. Spivey opened the 2006/07 season with the premiere of Otis Sallid’s Gospel! Gospel! Gospel! co-produced with Grey’s Anatomy star and Karamu alum James Pickens, Jr. He also directed Thomas Gibbons critical acclaimed Permanent Collection and the world premier of The Fire Inside: Story and Poetry and Nikki Giovanni..
Mr. Spivey opened the 2007/08 season with Purlie Victorious, and directed Pearl Cleages Bourbon at the Border in collaboration with Ensemble Theatre. He closed the Spring 2008 season with Jean Genet’s inflammatory classic The Blacks: A Clown Show. It was voted by Cleveland’s Rave and PAN “Best Drama” for the 2008 theatre season.
In 2008/09, Karamu collaborated with Dobama Theatre for the Ohio Premier of Tony Kushner’s Caroline, or Change. It was voted “Best Musical” for 2008 season by Rave and PAN, the Midwest premiere of the hit Waitin’ 2 End Hell by William a. Parker, the, Midwest premieres of Thomas Gibbons A House With No Walls and Levy Lee Simon’s The Bow Wow Club and world premier of Michael Oatman’s Before I Die: The War Against Tupac Shakur . I
In 2009/10 season, he wrote and directed a musical adaptation of James Weldon Johnson's God's Trombones: Negro Sermons in Verse. The musical won Best Theatre Production by Cleveland Scene in 2009 and was list one of the Top Ten Plays by Rave and Pan Blog the same year. Spivey directed The Great White Hope in collaboration with Ensemble Theatre and Weathervane Playhouse (Akron) for Black History Month and was restaged at Weathervane in April 2010. Also in Spring of 2010 he reunited with Ms. Dee once again in the stage reading of From Breast Cancer to Broadway written by eleven Cleveland breast cancer survivors at the Cleveland Play House FusionFestival. In Fall 2010, Karamu he directed the world premiered Closure by poet Mary Weems which was choreographed by Dianne McIntyre and From Breast Cancer to Broadway in partnership with Cleveland Clinic. In Winter 2011, he was invited to Cleveland State University to direct their college production of Athol Fugard’s Master Harold and the Boys. The same year his adaptation of God’s Trombones was invited to the Akron Civic Center. In the summer 2011, Mr. Spivey was invited to New York to direct the stage reading of From Breast Cancer to Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre.
In 2011/12 season he co-directed the world premiere of a youth oriented piece You Got Nerve by Michael Oatman. He directed Michael Cristofer’s The Shadow Box, a play about terminal illness with an integrated cast and collaborated again with Cleveland Clinic. The Ohio premieres during the season were The Bluest Eye by Lydia Diamond and Gem of the Ocean by August Wilson.
In 2012/13 season, Spivey directed the opening season production The Color Purple and was an instant hit and Judi Ann Mason’s classic A Star Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hole in Heaven for Black History Month in collaboration with Cleveland Clinic. He closed the season with Regina Taylor’s hit gospel musical Crowns.
Spivey is excited about the upcoming 2013/14 six play season which includes the Ohio premiere of the Lee Summers musical From My Hometown, Cut Flowers by Gavin Lawrence and The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Diety
Mr. Spivey was voted "Best Theatre Honcho-2005" by Cleveland's Scene, a 2008 Governors Award for the Arts nominee, and Nguzo Saba Award winner in Cleveland. He was an adjunct professor at Kent State University Theatre and Dance in Fall 2008 teaching African American Theatre History. He has appeared in numerous local papers, and magazines such Cleveland Scene, Cleveland by Kristoffer Diaz Plain Dealer, Cleveland Cleveland Magazine and national; Backstage, Ebony Magazine and was one of fifteen artist selected throughout the country to appear in the 2008 book Artist and Influences and profiled in the February 2009 Issue of American Theatre magazine. In 2009/2010 season, he programmed playwright-in-residence Michael Oatman's revised version play, "Before I Die: The War Between Tupac and B.I.G. It was profiled in New York Times in April 2010.
In 2006, he served on the Executive Committee for Issue 18 (tobacco tax) that supported the arts through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. Spivey also served as one of three jurors along with Cleveland Film Commissioner Ivan Schwartz for the 33rd Annual Cleveland International Film Festival in 2008. The same year, he was elected to the prestigious National Theatre Conference. He is the third professional from Ohio to become a member since the elite eighty-five year old organizations’ existence.
He currently serves on the board of trustees as 2nd Vice Chair for Community Partnership for Arts and Culture, member of The Cleveland Foundation’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Scholarship Committee, and recently became board member for AUDELCO Awards in New York City. Spivey and was honored in 2011 with a proclamation by Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson and resolution by Councilwoman Mamie Mitchell for his contributions to the arts locally, regionally and nationally.