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Black Rep to stage 37th season at Harris-Stowe

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 17, 2013: After a two-month search, the St. Louis Black Repertory Company has secured a stage for its 37th season. The theater company will present three of its four 2013-2014 shows at Harris-Stowe State University’s Emerson Performance Center.

HSSU’s central location and ability to accommodate the bulk of the Black Rep's season were significant factors in the decision to perform at the university. Black Rep founder Ron Himes told the Beacon that the partnership is also a great fit given the mission and history of the two institutions.

“I think that is very historic in a way that the nation’s major African American theater company winds up on the campus of an historically black college or university,” Himes said.

The Black Rep will pay rent to HSSU and also assist with its theater program.

“Students will have the opportunity to experience internships and work with us in shadowing capacities,” Himes said.

In a press release, Harris-Stowe interim president Constance Gully applauded the collaborative effort's value for students.

“Our student theater group, The Harris-Stowe Players, will have the opportunity to be hands on with the best in theater, and that is such an honor,” Gully said.

The agreement is currently a short-term one. The venue is a good choice but not perfect, Himes said. The building also houses a gymnasium but it looks as if any overlap of games and plays can be prevented during the three shows. Whether the partnership continues after this season is something that will be evaluated as things move forward.

“At this point, we’re talking about one season and we’ll see how that goes on both sides,” Himes said. “We do hope that the relationship we’re developing with Harris-Stowe will be long-lasting.”

The Black Rep will make use of HSSU’s box office only during shows and will continue to make its offices at the current 4709 Delmar Blvd. location.

The Black Rep performed at the 470-seat Grandel Theater for 20 years, an arrangement that ended in this past summer. In August, Himes received an email from the Grand Center organization, which owns the building, telling him the Grandel had been sold. Grand Center has not yet revealed the buyer’s identity or his or her intended use of the building.

The theater company plans to release its full 37th-season schedule in the next few weeks. Subscriptions are now available through the Black Rep website and individual tickets will go on sale Nov. 25.

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