Ujima Theatre Company- 545 Elmwood Ave.
, NY 14214
Ujima Company, Inc., located in Buffalo, NY, serves to advance the interest and exposure of the performing arts as created and interpreted by African-Americans, by providing working opportunities for established artists and training experience for student artists. Ujima Company, Inc. is the only professional theatre company in all of Western New York dedicated to the development and presentation of work by African-American and other Third World artists. Of all the theatre companies in Buffalo, Ujima supports the longest standing acting ensemble. Ujima is among the most heralded and awarded arts organizations in the region, and was the first theatre company to receive the Outstanding Arts Organization award given by the Greater Buffalo Chamber of Commerce and the Arts Council in Buffalo and Erie County.
Ujima Company,Inc. was founded on December 15, 1978 as the theatre component of the now defunct Center for Positive Thought School of Movement and Dance. Some thirty artists accepted the invitation issued by Lorna C. Hill, founder of Ujima Company, to attend meetings and workshops in order to establish a group that would develop into both a honed ensemble and a professional producing company.
The ensemble established its reputation by developing and performing original works written and directed by Ms. Hill. These works combined Afro-Caribbean folklore, African-American literature, and African-American song and dance. Over the course of its first two years, Ujima Company performed extensively throughout Erie and Niagara Counties as well as in Southern Ontario.
Ujima's ensemble soon turned its attention to already scripted works. To this day, Ujima's record and repertoire of works is marked by a diverse spread of scripts from the familiar African American canon, lesser known works by African American authors, premiers of new works, standard works of Western theater, and contemporary American theater.
In 1981, having outgrown the protectorship of its parent organization, Ujima established itself as an independent entity. The next year, it began tenancy of studios located in the heart of a thriving retail district. These studios are known as TheaterLoft. Each year at TheaterLoft, Ujima presents and produces a season of plays prominently featuring its ensemble and intern performers, as well as guest artists from Buffalo's professional community. Ujirna has also presented world premieres of plays written by founder and artistic director Lorna C. Hill. Her work includes ... And Bid Him sing, Free Fred Brown, Opportunity, Please Knock!, and Yalla Bitch. The last title was featured in the First International Women Playwrights Conference, and was the only play in the conference written by a linng African American author. In 1986, Ujima presented the world premiere of From The Mississippi Delta, by Dr. Endesha Ida Mae Holland. The script, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Drama, was subsequently performed throughout the country and at England's Young Victory Company. Shortly thereafter From The Mississippi Delta completed a successful run off-Broadway. Ujima also presented local premieres of two musical works by Oscar Brown Jr., It's About Time and In De Beginning both directed by Mr. Brown during the 1989-90 season.
For years, Ujima Company has entered into co-production arrangements with other arts organizations in the Western New York area. Each co-production is planned to share respective resources for mutual advantage, allowing Ujima Company to present shows on a larger scale without debilitating its resources.
Administration Phone: 716-883-4232
Box Office Phone: 716-883-0380
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