Pitt’s Kuntu Repertory Theatre Wraps Up Season

Issue Date: 
May 26, 2009

The University of Pittsburgh’s Kuntu Repertory Theatre brings to an end its season of plays by the late playwright Rob Penny with Among the Best: The Pittsburgh Crawfords and the Homestead Grays, based on two famous baseball teams in the Negro Leagues. The play runs May 28 through June 13 in the Seventh-floor Auditorium of Alumni Hall. Penny was Kuntu’s playwright-in-residence for many years and a Pitt professor of Africana Studies.

Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. A matinee is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, June 6, and 11 a.m. Thursday, June 11.

The story tells the tale of some of the most talented baseball players in the Negro Leagues—Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell, Buck Leonard, and Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe. When these legendary athletes return to Greenlee Field in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, they contemplate the impact Jackie Robinson and the integration of the Major Leagues had on their careers. The stories of their struggle parallel the disappointment experienced by a young girl, Kemiya, who has been rejected by a local male baseball team.

Attendees at the May 30 performance will be treated to a 7 p.m. preshow reception in the lobby of the Seventh-floor Auditorium. Photos, uniforms, and other memorabilia from the Crawfords and the Grays will be on display, and former Crawfords pitcher and outfielder Ted Toles will sign autographs. Some of the items will be for sale, with proceeds benefiting the Josh Gibson Foundation. Sean Gibson, the foundation’s president and great-grandson of legendary catcher Josh Gibson, has helped coordinate the event. Sean Gibson will be in attendance May 30, and other former players’ friends and families also are expected to attend.

Among the Best will be directed by Talvin Wilks, a New York City-based playwright, director, and dramaturg, whose works include Tod, the Boy, Tod; The Trial of Uncle S/M; The Life In Between; and American Triptych. He has been a guest director and lecturer at SUNY/Stony Brook, Antioch College, Princeton University, and Howard University. He was a professor of theater at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and served as the interim artistic director for New WORLD Theater.

Admission to Among the Best is $20 for adults; $14 for Pitt faculty and staff; $13 for senior citizens, students, and children ages 4-18; and $5 for all Pitt students with a valid ID. Groups of 10 or more receive a 25 percent discount. May 28 and 29 are Dollar Nights for Pitt students.  For more information, call 412-624-7298 or visit www.kuntu.org. For more information on the Josh Gibson Foundation, call 412-771-6949 or visit www.joshgibson.org.