Ubuntu Theater Project Brings Theater for the People to the People

Ubuntu Theater Project (UTP) is an exciting treat spreading across the Bay Area this September.

Founded by Colin Blattel and Michael Moran, UTP brings a talented group of 9 MFA actors from UC San Diego to perform in the Bay Area. UTP is unique in its mission to bring live performances to young professionals and marginalized communities, many of whom may not have regular access to theater.

Modern Venues Bring an Ancient Philosophy to Life

UTP gets its name from a Zulu proverb about Ubuntu: I am a person through other people. My humanity is tied to yours. This philosophy is threaded into the work that the company does by highlighting the “innate interconnectedness between cultures and individuals.”

The founders were very intentional in choosing their audiences and opted to provide site-specific theater. This concept is designed to take theater out of typical venues and turn locations like parking lots, shops, and parks into stages.

With sites like the Merry-Go-Round at Tilden Park and Sole Space in Downtown Oakland (photo above), UTP’s first Summer Theater Festival is making the audience feel at home by adding a special spin on a few of our favorite places.

Show in Juvenile Detention Gets Youth Talking

In addition to making the show affordable and accessible to Bay Area residents, UTP has taken their company into a couple of local juvenile detention centers to expose incarcerated adolescents to theater.

UTP performed Yellowman, a 90-minute play written by Dael Orlandersmith. The play touches upon the color and gender hierarchies that are played out within the Black community. With all of the recent memes about light-skin versus dark-skin, this issue is increasingly visible to anyone scrolling through their social media pages, and definitely on point for a largely Black and Latino youth population.

Tesiana Elie, who plays the female lead in Yellowman, identified a distinct difference in performing for the teens. She observed the teens to have stronger reactions throughout the performance and she became more conscious of her role and what it provoked for the youth.

In the discussion that followed the play, the youth asked questions that allowed the performers to know that they were connecting with the characters and could identify those same issues within their own experiences.

Catch Ubuntu Theater Project Before September 21

Each of their four plays highlight themes that help audience members to connect with other cultures, the characters, and each other through the discussions that are sparked as a result of watching the incredible performances.

With themes like love, truth, and internalized racism, you’re sure to be captivated by whichever play you decide to see.

Ubuntu Theater Project Summer Theater Festival is a three-week series and their final show is Saturday, September 21 (watch the co-founders explain a bit more about the series in the video below). Be sure to check out their website for more info on the company, showtimes, and tickets.

Learn more about Ubuntu Theater Project