By Elizabeth Hall–

The University of Louisville’s African-American Theatre Program is celebrating their 25 anniversary at a fundraising gala on Feb. 16. This program is the first and only one of its kind in the region.

The African-American Theatre Program has done numerous performances including “Othello”, “The Tempest” and their most recent one, “The Mountaintop”. The program is dedicated to the study of African-American theatre and staging their works.

“The African American Theatre Program (The AATP) is unique. Since 1993, The AATP has been staging works by African-American playwrights, developing a broad audience for African-American theatre, and offering an in-depth curriculum that focuses on the theory and craft of acting, directing, and designing African-American theatre,” said Johnny Jones, the current director of the AATP.

Within the graduate program, an array classes are offered ranging from the history of African-American theatre, theatre of the African world, and Advanced Black Aesthetic on Stage. There are also community service, internships, and independent study classes built into the graduate program.

“Theatre Arts undergraduates are required to take multiple AATP courses in their core curriculum, thus providing a solid engagement with African American Theatre”, said Jones.

The program has collaborated with many big profile performers including Cicely Tyson, Glynn Turman, Woodie King Jr. and more.

“The AATP staff and faculty have participated in study abroad programs in Beijing, China; Hong Kong, China; Sao Paolo, Brazil; and Cuba. The AATP faculty has studied and performed nationally and abroad in Taiwan, London, Amsterdam and Los Angeles,” said Jones.

The event will take place at the University Club at 7 p.m. on Feb. 16. The celebration will include a silent auction, dinner, honorary awards and singing and dancing performances. About 150 people are expected to attend the gala. The honorary Trailblazer Award will be given to three former directors of the AATP: professors Baron Kelly, emeritus Lundeana Thomas and Nefertiti Burton.

The AATP has future performances in Washington D.C and Louisville.

“‘A Raisin in the Sun’ by Lorraine Hansberry will open on April 11, commemorating the 60-year anniversary of the American classic’s Broadway premiere in 1959. We hope you will join us for this experience as well,” Jones said.

Graphic by Shayla Kerr / The Louisville Cardinal