Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State

Center for the Performing Arts season to focus on stories of African-American life

As part of its 2019–20 season, the Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State has curated eight presentations that will tell the stories of African-American life in the United States throughout the last several centuries. By means of music, theater and dance, the center will focus on “The American Experience: Through an African-American Lens.”

“It’s an honor to present the artists who comprise our season focus performances to audiences in central Pennsylvania,” said Amy Dupain Vashaw, audience and program development director at the Center for the Performing Arts. “We espouse the strong belief that the arts can provide transformative experiences that help people build empathy, feel seen and represented, and empower them to tell their own stories.”

The presentations featured in the season focus are: Imani Winds and Catalyst Quartet in “(im)migration: music of change,” Sept. 18; “It’s All About Love” Starring Maceo Parker and Featuring the Maceo Parker Big Band, Sept. 26; “Harlem 100: Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance” featuring Mwenso and the Shakes with Brianna Thomas, Michela Marino Lerman and Vuyo Sotashe, Oct. 22; Dance Theatre of Harlem 50th Anniversary Tour, Nov. 12; Step Afrika! in “Drumfolk,” Jan. 31; Lizz Wright, Feb. 5; Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis in “Masters of Form: From Mingus to Monk,” April 2; and “The Color Purple,” April 15. Most of the presentations will be in Eisenhower Auditorium. The Imani/Catalyst and Wright concerts are scheduled for Schwab Auditorium.

“Our season focus provides for multiple and linked opportunities to learn and understand each other by interacting with artists and experiencing the passionate, authentic expression of their cultures and histories,” said George Trudeau, director of the Center for the Performing Arts. “I’m excited to take this journey with those who will be joining us this season.”

The September-through-April focus will go beyond the performances that serve as its foundation.

“In addition to the powerful stories unfolding onstage,” Vashaw said, “the community will have many opportunities to engage with the artists through panel discussions, master classes, dance workshops, lectures and more throughout the season as we closely examine what it means to be African American in the United States.”

Learn more about the season focus.

Tickets for the focus presentations and other Center for the Performing Arts performances are available online or by phone at 814-863-0255 or 800-ARTS-TIX. Tickets are also available at three State College locations: Eisenhower Auditorium (weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.), Penn State Downtown Theatre Center (weekdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and Bryce Jordan Center (weekdays 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). A grant from the University Park Student Fee Board makes Penn State student prices possible.

Sandra Zaremba and Richard Brown provide support for engagement programming related to the performances.