People Productions was originally founded by:
As a theater student at San Jose State University in the sixties, 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 street kids to artists. 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 Schraine , who had been teaching African-American Theater since the seventies . 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 Theater Department. Following the death of Edward Lewis from pancreatic cancer in August 2009, the Edward Lewis Theater Festival was conceived.
Richard Scharine is a Professor Emeritus in Theater and Ethnic Studies at the University of Utah, where at one time or another he served as Chair, Director of Graduate Studies, and head of Theaters' B.A. Program. Among his honors are the University of Utah Professorship, University of Utah Diversity Award, College of Fine Arts Excellence Award, a Senior Fulbright Lectureship at the University of Gdansk in Poland, and Outstanding Educator of America. He has published two books and a score of articles, and directed 90+ plays, most recently the Intermountain premiere of Lynn Nottage’s Ruined for People Productions, of which he is a co-founder and senior consultant. Dr. Scharine has acted in ten states and seven foreign countries. His latest effort was as Giles Corey in March 2012 Grand Theater production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.
"The appeal of…all good theater is its universality. It expresses the pain of loss and being alone, the joy of love, the wonder of growing up and the comfort of friendship. These things don't change with your skin color."
Dr. Richard Scharine