University of Pittsburgh
April 22, 2011

Kuntu Repertory Theatre Wraps Up 2010-11 Season With The House That Carol Built


Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh’s Kuntu Repertory Theatre presents The House That Carol Built—a family drama set in 1999 in Penn Hills, just outside of Pittsburgh—May 5-21 at the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company, 542 Penn Ave., Downtown. 

Written by Frank Floyd Hightower, The House That Carol Built focuses on an African American mother who faces the challenge of raising two young daughters and a son with autism.

Hightower is an original member of the Black Horizon Theatre and the Kuntu Writers Workshop, founded by the late Rob Penny, Kuntu’s playwright-in-residence for many years and a Pitt associate professor of Africana Studies, and the late playwright August Wilson. Hightower’s award-winning play Lifting was first staged in 1997 by the ETA Creative Arts Foundation in Chicago; Kuntu performed it in 1999. 

From 2003 to 2009, Hightower worked with poets to continue the legacy of the Kuntu Writers Workshop. He is presently working on two new plays, Ruby of the Salt and the Earth and Three Kings and a Queen. Kuntu is presenting productions this season by playwrights who were influenced by Penny. 

Stage, television, and film actress Renn Woods will appear as the character Carol. Woods is best known for her roles as Fanta in the Emmy Award-wining TV miniseries Roots and Aquarius in the film version of Hair. She won rave reviews for her appearance as Dorothy in the first Broadway tour of The Wiz. Film credits include, among others,

Crazy World, Walker, Nine to Five, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, and The Jerk. Her TV roles have ranged from regular appearances in Beauty and the Beast, Roc, and Relativity to guest starring roles in N.Y.P.D. Blue, Monsters, and others. Woods is recording her third CD as a songwriter and solo vocalist. 

With the assistance of Vernell A. Lillie, Kuntu’s founder and producing artistic director and associate professor emeritus of Africana Studies at Pitt, Leslie Howard, Kuntu director-in-training, will direct The House That Carol Built.  Howard is an accomplished actor who has performed for a number of theaters, including the New Horizon Theatre, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company, Gargaro Productions, and Kuntu.  He was recently seen as Tumbo in Pittsburgh Playwrights production of August Wilson’s Jitney

Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 4 p.m. Sundays; matinees are at 1 p.m. May 14 and 11 a.m. May 19. Admission is $20 for adults, $14 for Pitt faculty and staff, $13 for senior citizens, and $5 for students with a valid ID. On preview nights May 5 and 6, Pitt students with a valid ID can attend for $1. Discounts for groups of 10 or more are available. Tickets can be purchased at the box office of the William Pitt Union, 3959 Fifth Ave., Oakland (412-648-7814); through ProArts at 412-394-3353 or; or at Dorsey’s Record Shop, 7614 Frankstown Ave., Homewood (412-731-6607). For more information, call 412-624-7298 or visit