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Theater legend Lou Bellamy to retire from University of Minnesota

U of M hosts event Feb. 22 to honor Bellamy's contributions as a scholar, professor and artistic visionary

February 8, 2011

The University of Minnesota will present a tribute to honor the legacy of Lou Bellamy, founder and artistic director of Penumbra Theatre and associate professor of theatre at the University of Minnesota. Bellamy is retiring from the University of Minnesota this spring. He has worked at the university since 1979 and in the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance as an associate professor since 1994.

An event to honor his contributions to theater as a scholar, professor and artistic visionary will be held 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 22, at the university's Elmer L. Andersen Library, 222 21st Ave. S, Minneapolis.

For 32 years, Bellamy has taught courses at the University of Minnesota to both undergraduate and graduate students. He is most recognized for revitalizing and teaching "The African American in American Theatre: 1820 to 1960" and "Contemporary Black Theatre: 1960 to Present" courses, and for teaching numerous courses in the practice of theater including acting, directing and oral communication. He was the key advisor for the August Wilson Fellowship, which includes two components—a fellowship cash stipend and a 25 percent placement at Penumbra Theatre as a dramaturge for professional productions.

Bellamy is highly regarded by students, faculty and theatre professionals for his willingness and commitment to link students with professional development opportunities before and upon graduation. His students routinely become working directors, actors and technicians at theaters across the country.

“The best way to learn from Lou is to watch him direct,” says Lance Brockman, former department chair and fellow professor. “He has a special insight on how to move from the theoretical to the practical. What he does with our students and what he does with a professional cast is exactly the same.”

Under Bellamy’s leadership, Penumbra Theatre has produced 23 world premieres, including August Wilson's first professional production, and is proud to have produced more of Wilson’s plays than any theater in the world. Bellamy is an OBIE Award-winning director, an accomplished actor and sought-after scholar. He is a member of several professional organizations, including Black Theatre Network, Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers and the College of Fellows of the American Theatre. He is active in community service, including participation in the Governor’s Task Force on Economic Vitality in the Arts and the City of Saint Paul Community Education Planning Committee.

He has received numerous honors and awards including the W. Harry Davis Foundation Award for Leadership in Afro Centric Education, NAACP Arts and Drama Award, Doctor of Arts at Hamline University, 2006 McKnight Distinguished Artist Award, Lucille Lortel Award for Best Off-Broadway Revival of 2006 and the Lloyd Richards Directing Award for 2007.

Bellamy’s high standards and ethic have created the legacy that is perpetuated in his students. “He has so much integrity in his work that it really permeates his teaching and gives tremendous instruction to students in working honestly and fearlessly with material. He never settled for anything other than that,” says Barbara Reid, another former chair of the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance.

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Theater legend and U of M faculty member Lou Bellamy is retiring from the University of Minnesota this spring.

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