African Community Theater

The African Community Theatre (ACT), located in Ritchie Hall, increases exposure to and knowledge of the theatre heritage of African-Americans for students and local community residents of all ages. The program encourages area residents and students to participate in its theatrical productions. Students enhance communication skills and gain awareness and appreciation of the African-American heritage as depicted through theatre.

The nucleus groups for the African Community Theatre are the Mbárí Mbáyò Players and the African Theatre Arts Workshop. The Mbárí Mbáyò Players are in training for acting on stage, the African Theatre Arts Workshop serves to train students and community residents in various aspects of theatre. The goal of the African Community Theatre is to extend the knowledge of African creativity presented through theatre. The theatre is open to the participation of senior citizens, younger adults, and college and public school students. If interested in poetry, costuming, acting or directing, the theatre would appreciate your participation.

Pan-African Theatre Ensemble

Inspire - Community – Research – Performance

“A people without knowledge of their history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”

 Marcus Garvey

Explore the Pan-African Theatre Ensemble

2017-2018 Pan-African Theatre ensemble Season  

Pan-African Theatre Ensemble (P. A. T. E.) Season – 2017-18

Artistic Director and Theatre Curator: D. Amy-Rose Forbes-Erickson, PhD.

Semester I – Fall 2017

Main Stage Production
Vejigantes (Devil Mask) (1958) by Francisco “Paco” Arriví

Thursday-Saturday, November 16, 17, 18 at 8pm, and Sunday, November 19 at 2pm

Auditions: Monday-Wednesday, September 4, 5, 6, 2017 at 5:30pm

1st day of Rehearsal Thursday, September 7, 2017

Rehearsal Schedule – Tuesdays/Thursdays at 5:30-8:15pm

Vejigantes Synopsis
Set during a Caribbean carnival of secrecy,
Vejigantes (Devil Mask) (1958) by Puerto Rican playwright Francisco Arrivί, is about multi-generational women whose experiences intertwine in a tragic “mulata” trope, white patriarchy, sexual assault; and whose lives heal through self-affirming their common African heritage in 1950s Loíza, Puerto Rico. The story unfolds with a young woman’s dilemma to “pass” for white with her white southern American fiancé, or to embrace her Blackness when confronted. She must make the choice to expose the family’s secret or to continue hiding her African ancestry. Vejigante is a traditional devil character in the Black populations of Loίza and Ponce in pre-Lenten carnivals in Puerto Rico. Traditionally, devil characters masquerade through the streets wearing brightly colored, bat-like, jumper costumes with multiple-horned masks commemorating the battle between good and evil. In recent decades, the Vejigante mask has become a subversive symbol for African and Taino heritages in Puerto Rico, and an emblem of African and Taino pride for self-determination against imperialism. Vejigantes (Devil Masks) reveal multiple layers of intrigue in this beloved Latin American and Caribbean play.  

Spring 2018 Theatre Production: The Purple Flower (1927) by Marita Bonner

Thursday-Saturday, March 15, 16, 17, 2018 at 8pm and Sunday, March 18, 2018 at 2pm.

Auditions: Monday, January 22 and Tuesday January 23, 2018 at 5:30pm

1st day of Rehearsals - Wednesday, January 24, 2018 at 5:30pm

Rehearsal Schedule – Monday/Wednesday at 5:30-8:15pm

Synopsis-"The Purple Flower"
As Marita O. Bonner’s finest masterpiece,
The Purple Flower (1927) is the first surrealist play written by an African American woman, long before Adrienne Kennedy’s Funnyhouse of a Negro in 1964.  The Purple Flower (1927) is a one-act play first published in the N.A.A.C.P. Crisis Magazine in 1927, consisting of two sets of characters: “White Devils” and “Us’s.” Through a surrealist theatrical device, the play relays a spiral of racial tensions in the United States in the 1920s, but applies to contemporary society and to any oppressed peoples around the world. Although Bonner never produced The Purple Flower in her lifetime, perhaps because of her bold racial representations of Whites as “White Devils” at the time, the Crisis Magazine awarded the play its first prize in the 1927 Literary Award.

New Black Plays  April 12-15, 2018

New Black Plays is an invitational calling playwrights, theatre artists, and enthusiasts to write and produce new plays about “the Black experience.”

·    An open invitation to all playwrights, theatre artist, and enthusiasts - regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability and other intersectional identities – to write and produce plays about Black issues, themes, or cultures - during the Pan-African Festival and Conference, Spring 2018 – April 12-15, 2018.

·    New Black Plays will run during the Pan-African Festival and Conference, Spring 2018.

·    Play categories: monologues, 10-minute plays, spoken-word poetry, one-act and full length plays.

·    Deadline for new scripts and proposals – Monday, January 22, 2018.

·    Final selections of 6 plays, 6-8 monologues/performance poems – TBA & TBD.

The goals and objectives of New Black Plays are:

·    To create a panorama of Black experience in theatre, nationally and globally.

·    To encourage all playwrights, theatre artists, and enthusiasts - regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability and other intersections - to showcase their craft by providing a space for new works in the African Community Theatre.

·    To provide outlets for playwrights and theatre artists to create socially engaged, conscious, and equitable communities through theatre and performance.

·    To produce theatre about intersectionality – race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, disability and other intersections.

·    To encourage and sustain community engagement with local communities, African descent communities, and Indigenous peoples in the Americas.

·    To promote a hub for theatre arts in the African Community Theatre by opening the way for the arts community to be fully involved in the Department of Pan-African Studies, Kent State University.

Preliminary Rules and Guidelines

·    All participants will present their plays at the African Community Theatre from April 12-15, 2018, during the Pan-African Festival and Conference, 2018.

·    Playwrights/writers will oversee their productions from start to finish, including the casting, directing, stage management, and other considerations.

·    The African Community Theatre will not be providing budgets to produce plays for New Black Plays.

·    Upon request, some set and costume pieces are available on loan for participants to share in their productions.


Kent State University
African Community Theater
Oscar Ritchie Hall
Room 230
225 Terrace Drive
Kent, OH 44242