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Rites and Reason Theatre

About | Mission | RPM | Logo | Staff | George H. Bass | Affiliations

The Department of Africana Studies' Rites and Reason Theatre is a research and developmental theatre dedicated to giving expression to the diverse cultures and traditions of continental and diasporic Africans and the vast Africana experience.

Rites and Reason's unique Research-to-Performance Method (RPM) is a systematic process that organizes teams of artists, scholars and researchers in the scholarly and creative development of new theatrical performances. RPM teams engage in direct dialogue with the community throughout the developmental process from ideas to readings to workshops to mainstage productions.

The Rites and Reason method includes the development of innovative theatrical forms rooted in Africana cultural traditions and expressions. Within Africana cultural traditions art is a creative manifestation of thought and culture. As such, Rites and Reason is a critical space for artists, writers, and scholars to explore and engage Africana intellectual and cultural traditions, translating them into creative theatrical and expressive forms.

About Rites and Reason Theatre

As one of the oldest continuously producing Black theatres in the nation, the Department of Africana Studies' Rites and Reason Theatre is dedicated to giving voice to the diverse cultural expressions of the New World. Rites and Reason uses its unique Research-to-Performance Method (RPM) to develop new creative works.

Rites and Reason was founded in September 1970 by Professor George Houston Bass and became a formal component of the then Program in Afro-American Studies in 1975. Born out of the Black Arts Movement and student protests at Brown University, Rites and Reason evolved into a Research-to-Performance Method theatre. The RPM nourishes organic diversity and collaborative creativity.

Throughout its history, Rites and Reason has developed works by undergraduate and graduate students and professional playwrights who have gone on to national acclaim. In recent years, Rites and Reason has developed and produced student plays about foot binding in ancient China and the conscription of Jewish boys into the Russian Czarist Army in the 1830s.

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The Mission

The Department of Africana Studies' Rites and Reason Theatre’s mission is to develop new creative works which analyze and articulate the phenomenal and universal odyssey of the African Diaspora. Through this commitment, Rites and Reason has developed creative works that have explored the experiences and expressions of peoples and cultures from across the world.

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The Research-to-Performance Method (RPM)

The Research-to-Performance Method (RPM) is Rites and Reason's signature method. RPM teams consisting of scholars, writers and community persons collaborate in creating and developing significant new works. A magical and wonderful thing happens when scholars become artists and artists become scholars within the RPM process.

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The Me-We is the Rites and Reason logo. The upper totem represents the mind, intelligence and reason. The lower totem represents the mask, performance and rites.

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Elmo Terry-Morgan, Artistic Director
Karen Allen Baxter, Managing Director
Alonzo T. Jones, Technical Director

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George H. Bass

George Houston Bass (1938-1990), Founder and Artistic Director of Rites and Reason Theatre was educated at Fisk University, New York University, and Yale University. From 1973 until his death, he was Professor of Theatre Arts and Afro-American Studies at Brown University.

Professor Bass worked with Professor Rhett S. Jones, a historian and the Research Director for Rites and Reason Theatre, to express the cultural, social and ideological concerns of the various peoples and cultures of the African Diaspora. He also worked with producer and managing director Karen Allen Baxter to codify the methods and the development of plays at Rites and Reason.

Bass is the author of numerous plays, including Black Masque, Malacoff Blue, and De Day of No 'Mo. He has worked as a director throughout the country. Brer Rabbit Whole was first produced at Fisk University, and a revised version was produced by Rites & Reason in 1985. Bass' Black Masque was part of Rites & Reason's 25th Anniversary Season. Professor Bass was also the editor of The Langston Hughes Review, the official organ of the Langston Hughes Society.

Bass's work has been acknowledged by the American Society of Cinematologists winning the Rosenthal Award in 1964 and the Plaque of the Lion of St. Marc at the 1967 Venice Film Festival. Professor Bass also received a John Hay Whitney Fellowship, a John Golden Fellowship from the Yale University School of Drama, a Harlem Cultural Council Grant, a Howard Foundation Fellowship, and a Fulbright Research Grant.

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Rites and Reason Theatre Affiliations

Brown/Trinity Consortium
Brown University Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies

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