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The History of the Amun Ra Theatre

ART was first conceived in the summer of 1998 by the founding Artistic Director jeff obafemi carr. One night, after performing a role in a Shakespeare production, Carr sat in his dressing room as the rest of the cast exited the building. While removing his makeup, he found himself almost in a trance-like state. “That’s when I heard it,” recalls carr. “It was like a voice, but a collective voice, like hundreds of people were speaking in unison. I looked at myself in the mirror, but I was no longer looking at myself, I don’t know where I was. Then it all became clear. The voices said one thing: ‘Tell our stories.’ From that moment, I knew that that’s what was needed: an institution dedicated to giving voice to all the people I hadn’t been exposed to growing up in the theatre—the playwrights, the musicians, the poets. That’s when the work began.”

ART was officially incorporated as a non-profit organization in the state of Tennessee on April 4, 2001 and launched its inaugural production, How Blak Kin Eye Bee? at Fisk University’s Memorial Chapel April 27th and 28th. With production team that included the likes of Director Persephone Felder-Fentress, Producer Gray W. Hemphill, II of Linear Sequence Productions, Art Director James R. Threalkill , Music Director Alex Stadaker, and the Fisk University Stagecrafters, the production set a standard for a new kind of Dramatic institution in Nashville.

The Name Amun Ra comes from ancient Egypt (Kemet), where world civilization and culture reached its zenith. The word Amun translates as "The Hidden," representing the deep and powerful hidden energy of the creative force of the universe. Ra translates as "Light" and represents the warm and nurturing energy of the sun. Therein lies our purpose: to utilize the world of Theatre and its related arts to expose the hidden light that exists within. Whether it is within our Actors in one of our high-quality productions, the youth who we train through our outreach programs, or even the audience members who witness the work, we strive to touch the human mind and soul in a way that leaves all involved transformed in a positive way.

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