Kuntu Repertory Theatre to shut down after current season

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Kuntu Repertory Theatre, the city's oldest African-American theater company, will be closing after this season, said Sala Udin, former city council member and professional actor who had performed in the company's plays.

Founded by Vernell Lillie in 1974, the theater was run out of the University of Pittsburgh until two years ago, when its funding was cut. Ms. Lillie continued to produce plays -- three last season, including "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" -- at the Carnegie Library's Homewood branch

Ms. Lillie, 81, couldn't be reached for comment, but Mr. Udin said that her decision was based on ongoing difficulties in funding the company, "and she was getting tired, I think."

"Kuntu provided the only training opportunities for students interested in black theater in the region," he said, noting that Kuntu's earliest supporters included Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson.

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Mackenzie Carpenter: 412-263-1949; mcarpenter@post-gazette.com.


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