Theatre director, producer to share 40 years of theatre experience


Jordan Boyer

Ron Himes, director and founder of the Saint Louis Black Repertory (center), rehearses with students at the Black Box located in the Doudna Fine Arts Center Monday night.

Kennedy Nolen, Multicultural Reporter

Ron Himes, director and founder of the Saint Louis Black Repertory and Henry E. Hampton, Jr. Artist-in-Residence at Washington University, will be delivering a public address titled “Black Theatre: Filling the Void” at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the Doudna Fine Arts Center Lecture Hall.

Himes will recount his experiences in theater and communities over the past 40 years and mediating on present-day challenges. A reception in the Black Box Theatre will immediately follow the lecture.

The award-winning director will be on campus from Nov. 27 to Dec. 3.

C.C. Wharram, director of the center for the humanities, said hearing about how theater connects with a lot of contemporary issues is something unique and vital for a community.

He said Himes was working on a project in Bloomington, Indiana at the University of Indiana and agreed to stop at Eastern on his way back to St. Louis.

“He agreed to come here very generously,” Wharram said.

Himes will tell the audience what he believes is important in theater, specifically the type of theater he has experience in, Wharram said. There has been a missing voice in addressing the contemporary problems, he said.

“I am hoping for a large variety of students, faculty and staff to come to this unique opportunity,” Wharram said.

Under Himes’ leadership, the Saint Louis Black Repertory has developed a national reputation for staging quality productions from an African-American perspective.

The organization began touring other college campuses and, in 1981, found a home in the former sanctuary of the Greely Presbyterian Church in north St. Louis City, which the company converted and renamed the 23rd Street Theatre.

“I think (Himes’ lecture) may well be more targeted toward students who are not theater students,” Wharram said. “I think a lot of us may not have a sense of how theater can help us solve and address current problems.”

He said Himes has a tremendous track record of putting together great theater in St. Louis and elsewhere.

Himes has produced and directed more than 200 plays at The Black Repertory, including all 10 plays written by August Wilson. His Black Repertory directing credits have been critically acclaimed across the country.

Himes also received the Larry Leon Hamlin Producer Award at the National Black Theatre Festival this year.

Wharram said he hopes to see the lecture hall in Doudna packed Tuesday.

“I think the timing worked quite well,” he said. “It’s not the last week of classes, and it’s not exam week. It’s the last week to fit something in like this.”

Kennedy Nolen can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].