Penumbra Theatre artistic director Sarah Bellamy will make her professional directing debut next season in a lineup that includes the premiere of a follow-up to “The Ballad of Emmett Till.”
The 2018-19 Penumbra season kicks off with a revival of Ntozake Shange’s landmark poetry/dance work “For Colored Girls Who’ve Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf.” Bellamy will team up with her father, theater founder Lou Bellamy, in staging this work about female empowerment, which will be choreographed by Twin Cities dancemaker Ananya Chatterjea (Sept. 20-Oct. 14).
The mainstage season continues with a tweaked production of “Black Nativity,” Penumbra’s Christmas tradition. While the staging and some of the materials for the oratorio will change, the creative team (director Lou Bellamy, choreographer Uri Sands and musical director Sanford Moore) remains intact for what has become the holiday season’s most soulful offering (Nov. 29-Dec. 23).
In 2014, Penumbra staged a hauntingly poetic production of playwright Ifa Bayeza’s “The Ballad of Emmett Till,” about the 14-year-old African-American youngster from Chicago who was murdered in Mississippi in 1955 for allegedly whistling at a white woman. The killing became a catalyst for the civil rights movement. Director Talvin Wilks, who helmed that work, returns for the premiere of Bayeza’s “Benevolence,” play two of a planned trilogy. This work orbits characters in the town in the wake of the Till murder (Feb. 14-March 10, 2019).
Penumbra also will do its first-ever coproduction with Theater Mu with the regional premiere of Prince Gomolvilas’ “The Brothers Paranormal.” The play is about two Thai-American ghost hunters who investigate spirit sightings in the home of a couple displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Mu artistic director Randy Reyes directs (May 2-26, 2019).
The theater’s popular Let’s Talk Series, curated and hosted by Sarah Bellamy, includes conversations that focus on AfroFuturism, the artistic and aesthetic school that informs the blockbuster film “Black Panther” (Oct. 22, 2018), the power of bearing witness to trauma (Dec. 10) and the relationship between ritual and performance in the quest for the divine (March 4, 2019).
Penumbra also will screen films as part of its Reel Talk series, including “The Language You Cry In” (Nov. 12), “The Last Angel of History” (Jan. 28, 2019) and director Julie Dash’s 1991 masterwork “Daughters of the Dust” (March 25, 2019).
Subscription packages, which range from $96 to $252, will be available May 1. 651-224-3180 or penumbratheatre.org.
Penumbra will not host its annual Claude Purdy festival of solo shows next year but that programming will return the following season, said managing director Amy Thomas. “We just didn’t have the space on the calendar to do it this year,” she said.