The story behind the name Penumbra

Penumbra Theater is getting ready to stage its latest show “I Wish You Love” at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. next week, followed by an engagement in Hartford, Connecticut in July.

Meanwhile, MNOriginal profiled the show last night.

What caught me off-guard was the realization that in all my years of covering the theater, I had never bothered to ask Artistic Director Lou Bellamy how he came up with the name. Last night, he explained it this way:

The name “Penumbra” began when we began the company in 1976. I knew that I wanted our program to be professional. We were a program of the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center; you’ve got to remember at this time, we weren’t able to get State Arts Board funding because they said we were doing social service, not art.

Penumbra is a Latin term that means “partial shadow” – it’s that place than an artist needs to go to create that world that is neither light nor dark. It also sort of symbolized the marginalization of the culture, and all that sort of stuff.

These are all afterthoughts; it was fun to say Penumbra – it’s a fun word to say!

There you have it.

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