University of Pittsburgh
August 12, 2003

Pitt's Kuntu Repertory Theatre Announces 2003-2004 Season

Schedule includes world premiere of The Buffalo Soldiers Plus One, cowritten by Kuntu founder and artistic director Vernell A. Lillie
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh's internationally renowned Kuntu Repertory Theatre (KRT) has announced its 2003-2004 season, the company's 29th, which will include the following four productions: She'll Find Her Way Home; The Buffalo Soldiers Plus One; Dark Cowgirls and Prairie Queens; and Deadwood Dick, Legend of the West.

"There is a critical need for the development of dramatic literature which explores the contributions of African Americans in the development of the West and the wonderful work of the Buffalo Soldiers," said KRT Founder and Artistic Director Vernell A. Lillie. "The plays this season explore, reclaim, and capture the rich heritage, language styles, attitudes, and values of people of African descent in the development of the country-western genre."

She'll Find Her Way Home by Valetta Anderson, Oct. 16-Nov. 1

Based in part on fact, this play, the first Pittsburgh premiere of the series, is an account of the courtship of Martha and Isaiah Montgomery, African American founders of the town of Mound Bayou, Miss.

Anderson is executive director of the Southeast Playwrights Project (SEPP) in Atlanta, Ga., and is on the board of directors of SEPP and Soapstone Center for the Arts in Decatur, Ga. Anderson teaches playwriting to high school students through the Alliance Theatre's Young Playwrights Project in Atlanta and is a member of Alternate ROOTS, the Dramatists Guild, and the Women in Theatre Program of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education.

The Buffalo Soldiers Plus One by Ernest McCarty and Vernell A. Lillie,

Jan. 29-Feb. 14

This musical drama tells the story of a young woman who served in disguise with the Buffalo soldiers, featuring stories, music, and dance from the 1800s. This is a world premiere.

McCarty, playwright, composer, and director, is a Chicago native who has authored or coauthored more than 24 produced plays and musicals. Before becoming artistic director of New Horizons Theater in Pittsburgh, he was associated with ETA Performing Arts Foundation in Chicago and Quaigh Theatre in New York City. Ten of McCarty's works have been produced in Pittsburgh, including Madame Hortense, The Exchange, A Window to Home, Closing Notice, The Hex, A Cosmic Night, Life After Coma, Give Us Another Tune, and The Region. His musical score for NBC-TV's Martin Luther King Suite won an Emmy award. His directing credits include Humbug, Brazilian Rendezvous, A Cosmic Night, The Separate Vacation, Madame Hortense, Recollection Rag, The Exchange, A Window Home, The Region, and Jar the Floor. McCarty is a member of the Dramatist Guild and received the Joseph Jefferson Award for Madame Hortense and the African American Arts Alliance of Chicago Horte W. Fuller One Act Play Festival Award.

Lillie, founder and artistic director of KRT, is an associate professor in the Department of Africana Studies at Pitt. She is a board member of City Theatre Community Media and a consultant for Black Theatre Network.

Dark Cowgirls and Prairie Queens by Linda Parris-Bailey, March 8-April 3

Another Pittsburgh premiere, this musical dramatizes the lives of seven legendary Black women from the American West, including Mary Fields, also known as "Black Mary"; Biddy "Grandma" Mason; sculptress Edmonia Lewis, also known as "Little Wildfire"; Mary Ellen "Mammy" Pleasant, of underground railroad fame; and Julia Boulette, "The Queen of Virginia City."

Parris-Bailey is executive director and artistic director of the Carpetbag Theatre Inc. (CBT) in Knoxville, Tenn. As the primary writer for the CBT Ensemble Company, Parris-Bailey has written a number of productions in addition to CBT's signature piece, Dark Cowgirls and Prairie Queens. Other touring works include Cric? Crac!, Ce Nitram Sacul, and Nothin' Nice. Parris-Bailey has conducted nationwide workshops on drama-based techniques.

Deadwood Dick, Legend of the West by Warren Burdine, May 21-June 5

The Pittsburgh premiere of a musical that pays homage to Black cowboys and their place in history, the production follows the trials and tribulations of the legendary Deadwood Dick and his sidekicks.

Burdine, who has taught at the City University of New York, is an academic scholar who has published in the "Source Book of African American Performance." He also has been published in the "Modern Drama No. 43,

Vol. 3," and his essays have been included with such noteworthy authors and playwrights as Ed Bullins, Barbara Lewis, and Barbara Ann Teer. According to Lillie, Burdine has been quoted extensively on the topic of the definition of musical theater and its use of stereotypical characters.

Kuntu performances are held at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays in the Seventh-Floor Auditorium of Alumni Hall, 4227 Fifth Ave., in Oakland.

KRT is a part of Pitt's Department of Africana Studies. For ticket and group sales information, call 412-624-7298, or visit www.kuntu.org. Season subscriptions as well as student and senior discounts are available.

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