Terrence Spivey To Deliver USITT Keynote

by Jacob Coakley
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Terrence Spivey, artistic director at Karamu House, and keynote speaker at the 2014 USITT Expo.Terrence Spivey, artistic director of Cleveland’s historic Karamu House theatre, will deliver the keynote address at USITT’s 2015 Annual Conference & Stage Expo in Cincinnati next March. Spivey has led Karamu House for 10 years. Karamu House, the nation’s oldest African American theatre, celebrates its centennial next year.

Karamu House Artistic Director to Open USITT 2015

Terrence Spivey, the dynamic artistic director of Cleveland’s historic Karamu House theatre, will deliver the keynote address at USITT’s 2015 Annual Conference & Stage Expo in Cincinnati next March.

Spivey will open the four-day convention for technical theatre professionals March 18- 21 at Cincinnati’s Duke Energy Center.  Some 5,000 members of the backstage industry are expected to attend. More info here.

Spivey is a film and theatre expert who has artistically led Karamu House for 10 years and directs some of its most acclaimed shows. Karamu House, the nation’s oldest African American theatre, celebrates its centennial next year.

Spivey’s appearance will kick off 200-plus sessions including art and technology workshops, awards, competitions, and demonstrations. USITT Stage Expo features 250 companies and organizations displaying the best of live entertainment design and technology.

Spivey said he’ll highlight Karamu House’s rich history as a place where people of different backgrounds come together to share creativity and common ground.

Located in Cleveland’s Fairfax neighborhood, Karamu House has been home to many revered alumni, including playwright and poet Langston Hughes, actors Ron O’Neil, Ruby Dee, Bill Cobbs, Beverly Todd, Ivan Dixon, James Pickens Jr, Robert Guillaume, Vanessa Belle Calloway, Earl Billings, Imani Hakim, and Jay O. Sanders, and Broadway stage manager Nate Barnett.

This year, Karamu received the 2013 Repertory Company of the Year award at the 41st Annual Vivian Robinson/AUDELCO “Viv” Awards for Excellence in Black Theatre. In keeping with its settlement house past, Karamu also operates a daycare center and offers cultural arts classes for all ages.  

Spivey, a native of Kountz, Texas, grew up in Houston’s Fourth Ward. He studied theatre at the Young People’s Drama Workshop at Good Hope Baptist Church, Lamar High School, and the historical black college Prairie View A&M under the guidance of famed Texas drama professor C. Lee Turner.

He worked in New York as a movie usher and hotel concierge to support an acting career that included Off-Off-Broadway and film roles. After founding his own theatre company, Powerful Long Ladder, in 2002, he was asked to guest direct at Karamu House. A year later, he was named artistic director of a theatre he reveres for its distinguished heritage and multicultural tradition.

This year he also is Director-in-Residence for the Kent State University African Community Theatre.

Other theatrical celebrities coming to Cincinnati for USITT 2015 include three backstage Broadway stars: costume designer Jane Greenwood, projection designer Wendall Harrington, and scene designer Doug Schmidt.

USITT, the United States Institute for Theatre Technology, is the national non-profit providing support, promotion, and training for performing arts designers and technicians. Its Conference & Stage Expo is the leading event for networking, recognition, promotion, product resourcing, and hands-on training for the stagecraft community.

For more information, please visit www.usittshow.org. To download the free USITT 365 mobile app, go to www.usitt.org/mobile.