University of Pittsburgh
August 23, 1999


Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH, August 24 -- The University of Pittsburgh's internationally-renowned Kuntu Repertory Theatre -- the second oldest black theater affiliated with a major university in the U.S. -- celebrates its 25th anniversary season in 1999-2000 with two revivals and a world premiere, announced founder and artistic director Vernell A. Lillie. The three productions are:

• "A Raisin in the Sun," Lorraine Hansberry's powerful drama built on sacrifice, heartbreak, trust, love and a family's heroic struggle to both survive and grow together. Set in Chicago's Southside during the 1950s, the play revolves around the conflicts within three generations of the Younger family. It stars Lillie in the role of Lena Younger.

Hansberry became the only black playwright, the youngest American and the fifth woman to win the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. Her play celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

A co-production with City Theatre, "A Raisin in the Sun" will be performed September 10 through October 10.

• Love to All, Lorraine and "Zora: the Dark Town Strutter," one-woman shows celebrating two black women who changed the way people look at the world and each other.

"Love to All, Lorraine," written by and starring Elizabeth Van Dyke, is based on the life of Hansberry. The play focuses on Hansberry's emotional state during significant periods of her life that include memories of being raised in a family that refused racial prejudice, learning African history from W.E.B. DuBois and struggling to write during her losing battle against cancer.

"Zora: the Dark Town Strutter," written by Lawrence Holder, directed by Lillie and starring Renee Berry-Mack, chronicles the life of anthropologist and author Zora Neale Hurston, from early childhood through ultimate recognition as one of the

best-loved writers of the Harlem Renaissance movement.

"Lorraine" and "Zora" will be performed January 20 to February 5.

• "Nefertari Rising," the world premiere of a romantic story of an Afrikan-centered black woman experiencing the unfolding of her spiritual and emotional natures and the way in which they complement each other.

Written by Kuntu playwright-in-residence Rob Penny and directed by Woodie King, Jr. of New York's New Federal Theatre, "Nefertari Rising" will be presented March 23 through April 8.

All performances are held Thursday through Sunday. Thursday through Saturday performances start at 8 p.m. Sunday curtain time is 4 p.m. For more information about the 25th anniversary season, Kuntu cards or daytime matinees, call (412) 624-7298.