In 1915, Oberlin College graduates Russell and Rowena Woodham-Jelliffe opened a neighborhood settlement in an area of Cleveland called “The Roaring Third,” and began producing plays with interracial casts as early as 1917. When a large number of African-Americans from the South moved into the area in the 1920s, they were welcomed at the so-called Playhouse Settlement, which soon became a magnet for some of the finest African-American artists of the day. (Several plays by Langston Hughes were developed and premiered there). In 1941, the venue was renamed Karamu House, “karamu” being a Swahili word meaning “a place of joyful gathering.”
Today, Karamu House remains vital as a not-for-profit arts and educational organization designed to encourage the preservation, celebration, and evolution of African-American culture. As part of its mission, Karamu offers theater for general audiences (Caroline, or Change; Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill; A House With No Walls) as well as highly regarded productions for children and young adults (The Secret Life of Girls; Ishmael’s Booker-T Project; Foot Soldiers for Freedom).
- Public Transportation: Fair (a short walk from RTA bus 11 at Quincy Avenue/ East 89th Street)
- Performances/Programs: Performance schedule is Thursday–Sunday
- Ticket Prices: $20–$30; preview nights $10–$15, seniors get a $3 discount, student tickets are $15; no senior and student discounts on preview nights.