Our History

 

People Productions is Utah's premier African-American theater company,

serving the Wasatch community with a history of cutting edge and thought provoking drama.

 

 

A Brief History of People Productions

As a theatre student at San Jose State University in the 1960s Edward Lewis had chafed against the lack of onstage opportunities for people of color. Determined to make his own opportunities, Lewis also saw the potential in exposing underserved children to the theater. The result in 1971 was PEOPLE PRODUCTIONS, which donated its initial profits to the fight against glaucoma, a disease afflicting several members of Lewis' family. Lewis later established a PEOPLE PRODUCTIONS branch in Los Angeles, where he also did film projects in conjunction with his cousin, DIFFERENT STROKES' Todd Bridges.

 

After his son, Edward Lewis Jr., graduated from the University of Utah, Edward Sr. moved to Salt Lake City, where a former student introduced him to Professor Richard Scharine, who had been teaching African-American Theatre since the 1970s. Lewis and Scharine revived PEOPLE PRODUCTIONS in August 2000 with a staging of James Baldwin's THE AMEN CORNER as a fundraiser for Calvary Baptist Church. Early casts were recruited from the Church and from the University of Utah's Theatre Department. Gradually, the word spread through the artistic and Black communities, and each subsequent play added new members to the PEOPLE PRODUCTIONS' acting roster. For years, it had been common practice for other Salt Lake theatres to inquire of PEOPLE PRODUCTIONS when in need of African-American actors.

 

Since then, PEOPLE PRODUCTIONS has produced over 20 plays throughout the Salt Lake Valley that have included, Ruined, Top Dog/Underdog, Jitney, A Soldier’s Play and For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf.   Following the death of Edward Lewis in 2009 from Pancreatic Cancer, Richard Schraine returned to the company as Artistic Director in 2013, a new era has begun for People Productions. 

People Productions has been a Non-Profit 501(c)-(3) Organization since 2006 and is also a member of the Utah Non-Profits Association)

 

 

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