University of Pittsburgh
May 1, 2002

Kuntu Repertory Theatre Concludes 2001-2002 Season with "The Conjure Man Dies" and "Sherlock Holmes and the Hands of Othello," May 23-June 8

Contact:  412-624-4147

May 2, 2002]

PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh's internationally renowned Kuntu Repertory Theatre concludes its 2001-2002 season dedicated to mystery dramas with two plays running in repertory on separate dates between May 23 and June 8.

The two productions are "The Conjure Man Dies," written by Rudolph Fisher, and "Sherlock Holmes and the Hands of Othello," by Alexander Simmons. Both are directed by Shauneille Perry.

"The Conjure Man Dies" is a mystery set in 1930s Harlem that centers on the mysterious death of N. Frimbo, an African king who has reinvented himself as a spiritualist, or "conjure man." Detective Perry Dart of the Harlem police force and Dr. John Archer investigate what appears to be a murder. The plot becomes more complex when the corpse disappears and then returns as the living Frimbo.

Fisher adapted "The Conjure Man Dies" from his 1932 novel of the same name. Fisher, who died in 1934 at the age of 37, began practicing medicine in Harlem in 1927. He also wrote short stories, novels, and plays.

"Sherlock Holmes and the Hands of Othello," which has been produced off-Broadway, is a murder mystery that explores the haunting of the family of Ira Aldridge, the famous Black Shakespearean actor in Victorian England.

Born and raised in New York City, Simmons is artistic director of the Bronx Creative Arts for Youth Inc. He has published a number of children's books, including "The Adventure of Shelly Holmes," "The Ghost of Craven Cove," "The Case of the Funny Money Man," and "The Ghost of Shockly Manor." In addition, he has written and directed scripts for video and film, including "If at First," an educational drama on youth employment produced for national distribution by the Creative Arts Team; and for radio scripts, one of which won the Ohio State Award for Radio Drama. Besides authoring "Sherlock Holmes and the Hands of Othello," his first play, Simmons has written two others to date—"Starchild" and "Once upon a Miracle."

A Chicago native, Perry is an actress, director, writer, and educator. She has performed with the Howard University H.U. Players and the Atlanta and Lincoln University summer theater companies. Perry earned the M.F.A. degree from the Art Institute of Chicago and was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. In 1960, at the beginning of the Black Arts Movement, Perry began working in New York City and soon was considered one of the top African American women directors, along with Vinette Carroll. Perry, who has received numerous honors as both a writer and director, is a professor of theatre and Black studies at Lehman College of the City University of New York.

Performances will be held Thursdays through Sundays in the Seventh-Floor Auditorium of Alumni Hall (formerly the Masonic Temple), 4227 Fifth Avenue, in Oakland.

"The Conjure Man Dies" will preview at 8 p.m. May 24; other performances will take place at 4 p.m. May 26 (opening night) and June 2, and at 8 p.m. May 31 and June 7. "Sherlock Holmes and the Hands of Othello" will preview at 8 p.m. May 23, and run at 8 p.m. May 25 (opening night) and June 1, and at 11 a.m. and

8 p.m. June 6.

For ticket and group sales information, call 412/624-7298 or visit Student and senior discounts are available.