Penumbra's highs and lows

  • Updated: October 14, 2013 - 7:38 PM
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Lou Bellamy, founder of Penumbra Theatre, spoke with Macelle Mahala, left, who has written a book about Penumbra’s history.

Photo: RENÉE JONES SCHNEIDER • reneejones@startribune.com,

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• 1976: Founded by Lou Bellamy, Claude Purdy and others. A year later it produced Steve Carter’s “Eden,” directed by Purdy with a cast including Bellamy, Marion McClinton, Faye Price and James A. Williams.

• 1982: Stages “Black Bart & The Sacred Hills,” the first professional production by an aspiring playwright named August Wilson.

• 1986: Wilson, a lifelong company member, wins a Pulitzer Prize for “Fences.”

• 1987: First production of “Black Nativity” and the premiere of Carlyle Brown’s “The Little Tommy Parker’s Celebrated Colored Minstrel Show,” his first professional production and one of nearly three dozen world premieres done by the company.

• 1990: Wilson wins Pulitzer for “The Piano Lesson.”

• 2007: Bellamy wins Obie award for directing a New York production of Wilson’s “Two Trains Running.”

• 2009: Finishes fiscal year with a $700,000 shortfall, its first major loss.

• 2011: Penumbra and Bellamy are featured on NBC’s “Rock Center With Brian Williams.”

• 2012: Announces a $1.15 million loss and cancels its fall season.

• 2013: Reopens in March after raising $359,000.

Rohan Preston

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