Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company is rooted in the African American community, and its mission is to produce the works of local racially and culturally diverse playwrights as well as Pittsburgh themed plays. We provide a nurturing environment for all who work on and off the stage, and build and serve a culturally diverse audience that can strengthen our civic community. We believe that bridges are built when diverse groups of people work together to make and experience the arts, and the stories that art told through the arts.
We seek to nurture a racially and culturally diverse community of theatre professionals, while supporting a similarly diverse management staff and board of directors who, working together, develop audiences that reflect the diversity of Pittsburgh’s community.
Our goal is to be a center of learning, discovery and connection for emerging and established local theatre artists. We work to encourage new playwriting, directing, acting and designing in Pittsburgh, especially among people who may not have the opportunity to see their work produced. This includes emerging artists, artists from marginalized communities, and people who are self-taught or new to the arts.
Playwrights was established in 2003 at the Penn Theater in Bloomfield/Garfield. In 2005, with funds supplied by the Pittsburgh Foundation and the RK Mellon Foundation, we opened a 75 seat theater in the Cultural District of Downtown Pittsburgh.
We have staged plays in a variety of settings since then, from dedicated theatre spaces above a parking garage and at 937 Liberty, and empty lots, hillsides and even on film.
For 17 years we have produced a season of plays that serve two roles, to focus on local playwrights, and to use the stage to examine the Black experience. Sometimes this work is hyper-focused, as seen in the play about Johhny Gamage. Sometimes the plays address experiences that impacted our nation, such as Hercules Didn’t Wade in the Water, set in post-Katrina New Orleans. Often, the plays address issues that are regrettably timeless, as even if they are set in an historical era, are as relevant today as they were 50 years ago, which we see through the works of August Wilson.
Throughout all our work we developed a reputation as a place where one could enter into the world of theatre – as an actor or as a sound technician. In 2020 we formalized our mentorship mentality into a training program, Ground Up Theatre, that works to train and uplift people of color in theatre careers.
Today, 17 years after our founding, we remain committed to our playwrights, our community, and our goal to build a better Pittsburgh.
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