Lou Bellamy. Photos by Rohan Preston
Hundreds of former students, colleagues and admirers turned out Tuesday to honor Penumbra Theatre founder Lou Bellamy, who is giving up one of his formal titles — theater professor at the University of Minnesota.
The tribute at the U was packed with distinguished locals: Pillsbury House Theatre’s Faye Price, Neal Cuthbert of the McKnight Foundation and actors Dennis Spears, Austene Van, host T. Mychael Rambo and Jevetta Steele, star of Bellamy’s production of “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” at the Guthrie.
The crowd also included civil rights icon Dr. Josie Johnson.
Bellamy and Dennis Spears
James Parente, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, announced that the university was creating a graduate fellowship in honor of Bellamy’s 32 years there. And a secret donor also made a major gift to the Givens Collection in Bellamy’s name.
The donation of books has 850 rare and priceless pieces, some pre-dating the Emancipation Proclamation. It includes a self-published narrative by Sojourner Truth plus works, many inscribed, by Zora Neale Hurston, W.E.B. DuBois, Ralph Ellison, Lorraine Hansberry, Lucille Clifton and Angela Davis, according to university librarian Wendy Pradt Lougee.
Bellamy and designer Kalere Payton
Bellamy, who won an Obie for his New York staging of "Two Trains Running," was bashful as speaker after speaker praised his legacy.
Bellamy and civil rights icon Dr. Josie Johnson
“His work has re-defined African-American literature, American theater and the canon,” said retired professor Barbara Reid, who hired Bellamy. “The school, the community, everyone – we’ve been fortunate to have such an eminent figure in our midst.”
Bellamy has the full attention of a tot
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