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Artistic Director of Historic Karamu House Named Director-in-Residence at Kent State’s African Community Theatre

Posted Sept. 30, 2013
enter photo description
Terrence Spivey, artistic director of the
Karamu House, a historic performing arts
center in Cleveland, Ohio, has been named
director-in-residence at Kent State’s African
Community Theatre.

With plans for two entertaining and inspirational performances this academic year, the Kent State University African Community Theatre (ACT) recently welcomed its Director-in-Residence Terrence Spivey, artistic director of the Karamu House, a historic performing arts center in Cleveland. Spivey’s work seeks to “educate, inspire and entertain diverse audiences in thought-provoking ways,” he says.

“My vision for ACT is for it to be a collegiate theatre program to be reckoned with in Northeast Ohio and beyond to the highest standards of professionalism,” Spivey says.

At Karamu House, Spivey also currently serves on the board of trustees as second vice chair for Community Partnership for Arts and Culture. Founded in 1915 and originally named “Settlement House,” Karamu House is the oldest African-American theatre in the United States. Many of Langston Hughes’s plays were developed and premiered at the theatre, and many notable actors got their start there, including Bill Cobbs, Minnie Gentry, Robert Guillaume, Dick Latessa and Ron O’Neal.

Spivey is a 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. He was honored in 2011 with a proclamation by Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson and a resolution by Councilwoman Mamie Mitchell for his contributions to the arts locally, regionally and nationally.

The fall 2013 production of No Niggers, No Jews, No Dogs, written by John Henry Redwood, will be directed by Spivey and runs from Nov. 21-24 and Dec. 6-8 in Ritchie Hall on the Kent Campus. The play is set in Halifax, N.C., where the Cheeks family, Rawl and his wife, Mattie, and their two daughters, makes its home. The year is 1949, and the title refers to signs commonly posted in the region in that era. The Cheeks are visited by Yaveni, a Jewish scholar from Cleveland, who is researching the effects of prejudice on both blacks and Jews, and by Aunt Cora, a mysterious local black woman who wanders around, wrapped in a black garment, and has a dark secret. Rawl takes off for Alabama to work as a gravedigger. While he is gone, Mattie is raped, and after his return, she tells Rawl she's pregnant. What happens next displays the strength and determination one woman was able to hold on to during that time in America.

Established in 1970, the Kent State African Community Theatre brings awareness and appreciation of the experiences of people of African descent as illustrated through theatrical performances. The African Community Theatre welcomes community participation regardless of gender, sexuality, race, class and/or ethnicity.