*Los Angeles is widely regarded as a film town. But did you know that there are a significant number of Black Theatre companies, doing outstanding productions, right here in southern California – as evidenced by the recent NAACP Theatre nominations and awards ceremony?
But only one has been recognized as “an oasis where creative voices and audiences connect.”
Towne Street Theatre, now in their 23rd season, was given that distinction years ago. Co-founded in 1993 by two women who had first met while portraying witches in a 1987 production of Macbeth, Nancy Cheryll Davis-Bellamy and Nancy Renée were on a mission with their new theatre to create positive social impact as a result of the violent outbreak that ensued after the Rodney King verdict in 1992.
But this was no easy task and they fell into the same trap many people who want to make a difference in the world fall into.
They led with their heart.
The women had initially worked to create a theatre for ALL people of color, but as reality often dictates, audiences can be fickle and it was difficult to attract Latino audiences to the African American plays and vice versa. With this, they decided to focus on producing and developing original works reflective of the African American experience along with black classics by generally unsung or under-appreciated black authors.
After a long residence in a desolate section of downtown Los Angeles, supported by grants from the City of L.A., the theatre started doing a series of readings by ethnic artists in a loft owned by Nathaniel Bellamy. Later, they moved to the William Grant Still Arts Center, and now, they call Hollywood’s Stella Adler Theatre home.
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