University of Pittsburgh
July 24, 2008

Pitt's Kuntu Repertory Theatre 2008-09 Season Spotlights the Plays of the Late Rob Penny

The poet-playwright and former Pitt faculty member will be honored by Pittsburgh City Council July 29

Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH—Beginning this fall, the 2008-09 season of the University of Pittsburgh's Kuntu Repertory Theatre will shine its spotlight on the legacy of the late Rob Penny, Kuntu's playwright-in-residence for many years and an associate professor of Africana studies. Penny passed away in 2003.

The season will feature four mainstage productions that reflect on Penny's career and different facets of the Black Pittsburgh life he examined, including family issues, music, and sports. Penny, who along with playwright August Wilson founded the Kuntu Writer's Workshop, wrote more than 300 poems and 30 plays, some of which were produced in New York, Chicago, and other venues across the country.

At 10 a.m. July 29, in Pittsburgh City Council Chambers, 5th floor, City-County Building, Downtown, Penny will be posthumously honored in a proclamation to be delivered by Councilwoman Tonya Payne. Members of Penny's family will be in attendance, as will Vernell Lillie, Kuntu's founder and producing artistic director and associate professor emerita of Africana studies at Pitt.

The upcoming Kuntu Repertory Theatre season will feature the following Penny plays:

"Diane's Heart"

Oct. 16-Nov. 1

Filled with dreams of a happy future, newlyweds Diane and Austin Williams struggle to find their way in a world of many temptations.

"Clean Drums"

Jan. 22-Feb. 7, 2009

This play tells the story of legendary Pittsburgh drummer Joe Harris and the tensions that emerge between Harris, who performs in the traditional jazz style, and younger musicians and their free-form style.

"Pain in My Heart" and "Reachings"

April 2-April 18, 2009

This is a double bill of two one-act plays.

In "Pain of My Heart," memories of forgotten promises leave successful businesswoman Millicent Morrison feeling unsettled. An unexpected encounter with an ex-lover from the Black Nationalist Movement helps her see the past more clearly and face the future with a new perspective.

"Reachings" explores the story of jazz musician Lee Meredith, who has returned home from the Vietnam War emotionally distraught. With the help of his sister, Jean, and his artistic girlfriend, Cheryl, he finds the inspiration to move past the trauma of his war experience.

"Among the Best"

May 28-June 13, 2009

When legendary baseball players Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, and Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe come back to their old field, the wins and losses of the Negro National League are relived through the eyes of Greg and Kemiya, two eager young ballplayers.

Additional information about all of the plays will be forthcoming. Kuntu performances are in the Seventh-Floor Auditorium of Alumni Hall, 4227 Fifth Ave., Oakland, at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays. For information on matinees, tickets, group sales, or auditions, call 412-624-7298.