After a little over a year of evident financial troubles – including many canceled shows and significant staff lay-offs – some very good news came from Knight Arts grantee, Penumbra Theatre, this week. Thanks to donations from the community – more than 1400 individuals, corporations and foundations – the company announced Monday that it had raised $359,000, comfortably exceeding the year-end fundraising goal of $340,000, needed to resume programming this spring.
Artistic Director and Penumbra founder Lou Bellamy also announced an abbreviated 2013 spring season of programs and performances, sponsored by RBC Wealth Management, which will include a major production scheduled for March: “SPUNK,” George C. Wolfe’s blues-soaked adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston’s “Three Tales.” The play, sensuous and rich with whip-smart cultural details evocative of turn-of-the-2oth-century African-American life and language, will be directed by Patdro Harris and feature T. Mychael Rambo, Dennis W. Spears, Jevetta Steele, and Austene Van. The company’s spring season will also include events from the Let’s Talk Theatre and REEL Talk series.
This August, in the wake of an already shortened season in 2011-12 and facing a serious income shortfall, Penumbra’s leadership made the difficult decision to lay off six of the company’s 16 staff and cancel the fall season’s shows, putting all their efforts toward fundraising and budget restructuring to ensure the company’s future sustainability. “The response was inspiring and humbling with donations coming in from across the nation,” Bill Stevens, Chair of the Penumbra Board of Directors, stated in the press release. “The matching grants from corporations, foundations and individuals had a huge impact. The board and volunteers leveraged it with calls straight through the holidays.”
Here’s hoping the company has once again found its footing and that a back-to-normal performance schedule for 2013-14 is on the horizon for next year.
“SPUNK,” adapted by George C. Wolfe from “Three Tales” by Zora Neale Hurston and directed by Patdro Harris, will run from March 14 through April 7 at Penumbra Theatre, 270 North Kent Street, St. Paul. Find ticket details and more upcoming event information on the company’s website: www.penumbratheatre.org.