University of Pittsburgh

Department of Africana Studies

Affiliated Activities

Kuntu Repertory Theatre


Kuntu Repertory Theatre (Kuntu) was founded in 1974 by Dr. Vernell A. Lillie, an associate professor, for the purpose of presenting the works of Rob Penny (playwright-in-residence) and other African American writers. Its intent has always been to examin Black life from a sociopolitical-historical perspective and to combine the salient features of theatre that educate, entertain, and move both performers and audiences to social action.


Kuntu usually stages three major productions a year. In addition, Kuntu produces approximately ten off-campus shows and colleges.


Kuntu performs about ten off-campus shows a year.

After its first year of production, the members of Kuntu expanded its purposes to include the following:

  1. To provide an arena for the Black writer to develop.
  2. To participate in the educational, social, and political development of peoples of African descent .
  3. To provide opportunities for its membership and for published and unpublished black writers to develop skills in the dramatic arts as both an aesthetic and a social statement.
  4. To enable the Black creative artist to have a supportive, intellectually stimulating environment for its own cultural reflections.
  5. To provide entertainment that is socially relevant, intellectually stimulating, historically accurate, emotionally satisfying, and technically excellent.
  6. To develop artists, actors, writers, directors, technicians, and educators who are knowledgeable in the Black experience.
  7. To enable its members to work as a group for the cultural and social development of the community. Since 1974, the Kuntu Repertory Theatre has sponsored many outstanding activities to give visibility to the African American presence at the University of Pittsburgh, to recruit and to assist Black students in succeeding in and in feeling comfortable in a majority White setting, and to involve Black and White students in examining the Black experience in America and throughout the world.

Kuntu performing Sarafina! a musical about students who led the anti-apartheid Soweto riots.

Our Mission is The study, research, interpretation, and dissemination of knowledge concerning African American, African, and Caribbean affairs and culture.