Mbárí Mbáyò Players
Mbárí Mbáyò Players

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

Our Mission

Established in the fall 2016 by D. Amy-Rose Forbes-Erickson, the Pan-African Theatre Ensemble is a non-profit, repertory theatre developed for ongoing research in Pan-African theatre and performance in the Department of the Pan-African Studies at Kent State University. The primary mission of the Pan-African Theatre Ensemble is to promote black theatre in the United States and around the world. Pan-Africanism is a concept and principle of unity among Africans on the continent of Africa and people of African descent worldwide who share in the traumatic history of trans-Atlantic slavery and scattering of African peoples throughout the world. The goal of the Pan-African Theatre Ensemble is to produce engaging, inspiring, experimental, and eclectic theatre and performance styles from the Pan-African world, including the continent of Africa, the United States, the Caribbean, Latin America, and Europe. The Pan-African Theatre Ensemble extends Efua Sutherland’s vision for Pan-African cultural activism with the Pan-African Historical Theatre Festival (PANAFEST) Biennial in Ghana, uniting emerging and established theatre and performance by Africans on the continent and peoples of African descent.

Our Vision

The Pan-African Theatre Ensemble’s vision is:

  • To produce a repertoire of emerging and canonical theatre from Africa and the Pan-African world, including the United States, Caribbean, Latin America, North America and Europe.
  • To experiment with a rich reservoir of Pan-African theatre and performance forms to create new methods – music and mime, physical theatre, storytelling, ethnographic folk, and other African, African American, and Caribbean forms
  • To promote innovation and creativity in the use of space, performance styles, design, and directorial methods
  • To encourage open membership to all people regardless of race, gender, sexuality, nationality, disability, and others.
  • To collaborate with local and regional artists and communities to produce theatre and performance.
  • To focus on social justice issues of gender, race, sexuality, and nationality through a selection of plays and performances.
  • To explore a variety of black expressions in non-Western and Western performance styles

Our Mandate

The Pan-African Theatre Ensemble’s mandate is:

  • To produce inspiring annual theatre seasons with Pan-African themes through theatre
  • To forge links with African and African Diasporic theatre companies for traditional folk, experimental performance styles, and contemporary works using Western and non-Western forms
  • To participate in national and international theatre festivals, including Panafest (Pan-African Historical Theatre Project), Carifesta (Caribbean Music and Arts Festival), Edinburgh Fringe Festival
  • To encourage and promote emerging talents in the field.
  • To provide opportunities and outlets for all, and especially for under-represented theatre artists in all areas of theatre production.
  • To educate and empower audiences and communities
  • To promote the role of theatre in community, society and the world.


2016-2017 African Community Theatre Schedule

Pan-African Theatre Ensemble (P. A. T. E.) Season – 2016-2017

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

Semester I – Fall 2016

Main Stage Production


The Bacchae of Euripides: A Communion Rite (1957) by Wole Soyinka (Nigerian) – based on the Ancient Greek play The Bacchae by Euripides – A Devised Production

Theatre Auditions: Monday, September 12 and Tuesday, September 13- at 5:30pm
Seeking: Male/Female dancers, actors, drummers, singers
Preparation: Instructions will be given at audition

First day of Rehearsals: Thursday September 15 from 5:30- 8:15 –African Community Theatre, Oscar Ritchie Hall
Rehearsal Schedule: Tuesdays and Thursdays 5:30-8:15 – African Community Theatre
Technical Rehearsals – Saturday, November 12, Sunday, November 13, Monday, November14, Tuesday, November 15, Wednesday, November 16

Run – Opening Night: Thursday, November 17, Friday, November 18, Saturday, November19, Sunday, November 20.

The Bacchae of Euripides: A Communion Rite by Wole Soyinka (1957) (Nigeria)

Wole Soyinka’s The Bacchae of Euripides: A Communion Rite is an adaptation of Euripides’s The Bacchae which is about Dionysus, god of wine and theatre, who travels to Thebes seeking revenge on his mortal family for not recognizing his divinity. The plot unfolds with Dionysus tricking Pentheus, driving the women into a frenzied worship, and leading them to the ultimate sacrifice. Soyinka’s The Bacchae of Euripides reworks Euripides’s play as an allegory on the Nigerian civil unrest in the 1950s, and more broadly on Pan-African issues of racial injustice, gender and sexuality. Soyinka’s play is fused with Yoruba religion, including the use of the Idanre, a Passion poem for Ogun, god of iron. Soyinka includes Dionysus in Yoruba Pantheon as Ogun’s younger brother drawing parallels in Ancient Greek and Yoruba traditions.  This devised production combines African oral tradition, ritual, music, dance, poetry and spectacle, and considers the consequences of denial and sacrifice for contemporary audiences.

Wole Soyinka (b. 1934) is one of the most celebrated and acclaimed Nigerian playwrights and poets. He is the recipient of numerous awards, and is the first African writer to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986.

Short Play – Memorized or Dramatic Reading
Tahinta!A Rhythm Play for Children by Efua Sutherland (Ghanaian)

Devised Production with spoken word, music, movement
Auditions: Wednesday, November 2
Seeking: Male/Female dancers, actors, drummers, singers
Preparation: Instructions will be given at audition
First day of Rehearsals: Monday, November 7
Technical Rehearsals – Saturday, December 3 to Wednesday, December, 7 (Dress Rehearsal)

One-Show, Opening, Friday December 9 – 7pm

Tahinta!: A Rhythm Play for Children by Efua Sutherland (1968) (Ghana)

Tahinta!: A Rhythm Play for Children by Efua Sutherland (1924-1996) is a rhythm play in the Akan storytelling and oral tradition. Sutherland uses call and response performance style, set to percussive beats, and performed for the young and young at heart. The rhythm play is related to African Diaspora communal performances in children’s games, and in African American and Caribbean popular and folk cultures. This production of Tahinta! experiments with West African performance modes of storytelling, music, dance, and visual spectacle.

Efua Sutherland is a renowned Ghanaian playwright, director and children’s author. She is a Pan-African cultural activist and founder of the biennial Pan-African Historical Theatre Festival (PANAFEST) in Ghana.


 Semester II – Spring 2017



Main Stage Production

Venus (1996) by Susan-Lori Parks (African American)

Auditions: Monday January 23 and Tuesday January 24
Seeking: actors, dancers, drummer, singers
Preparation: Instructions will be given at audition
First day of Rehearsals: Wednesday, January 25
Technical Rehearsals Saturday, March 18 to Thursday, March 16 (Dress Rehearsal)

Opening Friday, March 17 – 8pm, Saturday, March 18 – 8pm, Sunday, March19 – 2pm


Venus by Suzan-Lori Parks (1996) (U.S.A.)

Venus by Suzan-Lori Parks (b. 1963) recalls the true and historic account of Saartjie “Sarah” Baartman (1790-1815) who was kidnapped from her Khoikhoi people in South Africa in 1810 and paraded in freak shows in London and Paris. Baartman, dubbed “The Hottentot Venus,” was forced to publicly display her genitalia and buttocks, considered “abnormal” by European standards in the early nineteenth century. With a satiric and witty Brechtian style, Parks peels away the layers of ironies, tragedy, agency, and access to Baartman’s body in freak shows and medical experiments. Through visual metaphors for fetish and voyeurism, this production of Venus explores Baartman’s objectification and the perils of historic and contemporary spectacles by black women in popular culture. 

Suzan-Lori Parks is one of the most acclaimed African American playwrights and novelists. She has received numerous prestigious awards, and is the first African American woman recipient of the Pulitzer Prize and the MacArthur Genius Award.

Short Play – Memorized or Dramatic Reading – Faculty Collaborations

Devised Production with spoken word, music, movement, image

Auditions: Monday, March 20, Tuesday, March 21
Seeking: Male/Female dancers, actors, drummers, singers
Preparation: Instructions will be given at audition
Rehearsals Wednesday, March 22

Spring Recess March 27-April 2

Technical Rehearsals, Saturday, April 22 to Thursday, April 27
Opening Friday, April 28, Saturday, April 29, Sunday, April 30


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