Essential Theatre returning to in-person shows

Image courtesy FAMU Essential Theatre website.

Florida A&M University’s Essential Theatre announced that it is back with live theatrical performances for the 2021-2022 season.

Since COVID-19 hit during March 2019 and everything went virtual, the Essential Theatre hasn’t had a live performance.

According to, In 1913, Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Knight” was the first play to be produced on campus.

The Essential Theatre program became the astounding program it is today because of three individuals who were determined to build it.

Professional actor and Professor Charles Winter Wood developed the basis of the theater program in 1937. After the program flourished under his direction, Randolph Edmonds established a bachelor’s degree in speech and drama at FAMU.

The theater program is now under the auspices of the College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, and it offers two degree options: a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of science. Professor Ronald Davis and Valencia Matthews, dean of the college and former theater department chair, oversee the Essential Theatre.

There will be six productions this season: FAMU Connection on Thursday,
“BootyCandy” on Oct. 7-8, “Sweet Mamma String Bean: on Oct. 20-24, “Letter from Birmingham Jail” on Jan. 22-23, “The Waiting Room” on Feb. 16-20, and “A Cool Drink, A Water” on March 30-April 3.

Nia William, a fourth-year theater major, is excited that the program is returning to live performances this year.

“‘Sweet Mama String Bean’ I think its going to be a lot of fun,” Williams said. “I’m super excited for the vocal performances. I loved reading the script and it definitely has twists and turns.”

Imani Henry, a third-year theater major, said that they have started preparing for the shows this season.

“We have been getting ready for the live season by participating in workshops, marketing for the shows, and planning a lot too,” Henry said.

When the performances were virtual, the theater program wasn’t the same, Williams said. Williams said she is eager to start the performances this season.

“I was a part of some of the performances last year during COVID as crew,” Williams said. “It was definitely not the same as having everyone in the audience. Getting a reaction or energy from someone else can do a lot. I’m super excited to see how everything plays out.”

To purchase tickets, go to the Essential Theatre’s website.