In January of 1993 Lewis Campbell, an acting teacher from School of the Arts in San Francisco, got a call from  former student and
    professional actor Johanna Jackson. Would he work with some of  her students while she was playing the role of Calpurnia in To Kill a
    Mockingbird at Denver Repertory Theatre?  He agreed and two months later a group of fourteen young actors presented an evening of
    one-act  plays at The Gough Street Playhouse in San Francisco.  One of the actors in the March production was Ronnie Hatter, Arts
    Coordinator at the Potrero Hill  Neighborhood House.  Ronnie suggested starting a new theater company on The Hill, and Multi Ethnic
    Theater (MET) was born.  In June, Lewis took early retirement from teaching to become MET's full-time Artistic Director.

    A July 1993 program note contained the following message:

    We have MET on The Hill !  Multi-Ethnic Theater is a true people's theater. Tickets are sold on a sliding scale beginning at $2.00.  We rehearse mostly
    on weekends, and everyone is invited to participate. Classes and production activities will  begin again in the fall.

    For the summer and fall of 1993  MET concentrated on training and the presentation of scenes and one-act plays.  Then, in November,
    MET presented its first full length production, a handsome  and delightful staging of Moliere's  Scapino.

    MET continued at the Neighborhood House, training and producing plays, through 1996.  In 1997 the company moved its training
    operations downtown and began producing at The Gough Street Playhouse in alliance with Marcia Kimmell, director of The Next Stage
    Training Program.  In 1998 Ms. Kimmell and Lewis Campbell founded a California non-profit corporation, Theater Residencies  
    Incorporated (TRI), with MET and The Next Stage Training Program as two of its projects.  At The Gough Street Playhouse, TRI / MET
    has presented one or more productions a year and has also supported efforts by visiting theater companies.
Birdbath by Leonard Melfi                                  Hope is the Thing With Feathers by Richard Harrity                    A Sunny Morning by the Quintero Brothers
MET is a project of Theater Residencies, Incorporated (TRI ), a California non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation.


    One Act Plays
    Hope is the Thing With Feathers
    (Richard Harrity),  Ludlow Fair (Lanford
    Wilson), Talk to Me Like the Rain and
    Let Me Listen (Tennessee Williams),
    The Death of Bessie Smith (Edward
    Albee), Happy Ending   (Douglas
    Turner Ward),  Home Free (Lanford
    Wilson),   Lou Gehrig Did Not Die of
    Cancer (Jason Miller), The Rising of
    the Moon  (Lady Augusta Gregory),  
    Domino Courts (William Hauptman)

    Moliere's Scapino


To Be Young, Gifted and Black
(Lorraine Hansberry)

The Lower Depths
(Maxim Gorky)

Bleacher Bums
(Joe Mantegna)


Golden Boy
(Clifford Odets)

(August Wilson)

The Mousetrap
(Agatha Christie)

Sarajevo Voices and
Euripides' The Trojan Women


Purlie Victorious   (Ossie Davis)

He Who Gets Slapped   (Leonid Andreyev)

Mister Shakespeare's Magic Mirror
a collection of sonnets and scenes

To the Diggings  (Kathleen De Azevedo)


MET moves to
The Gough Street Playhouse
and presents:

Body Snatchers, The Musical
by Bob Lesoine

A World Premiere Production



The Happy Journey
(Thornton Wilder)

The Harmfulness of Tobacco
(Anton Chekhov)

The Golden Fleece
(A .R. Gurney Jr.)


Happy Ending  (DouglasTurner Ward)
Birdbath  (Leonard Melfi)
Graceland   (Ellen Byron)
Hit and Run  (Joseph Hart)
The Happy Journey  (Thornton Wilder)

Master Harold and the Boys
(Athol Fugard)


Joe Turner's Come and Gone
(August Wilson)

Twelve Angry Jurors
(Reginald Rose )


The Sea Horse
(Edward J. Moore)

Mister Shakespeare's Magic Mirror
a collection of sonnets and scenes

No Place to Be Somebody
(Charles Gordone)


The Time of Your Life
(William Saroyan)


The White Liars  and  Black Comedy
by Peter Shaffer


The Island and Sizwe Bansi is Dead
by Athol Fugard


When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder
by Mark Medoff   


A Secret for Next  Sunday
(Charles Johnson)
World Premiere


TRI / MET welcomes
The Custom Made Theater Company
as a resident project at
The Gough Street Playhouse.


Gem of the Ocean
by August Wilson


TRI / MET continues support of
The Custom Made Theater Company
at The Gough Street Playhouse.


To Be Young, Gifted and Black
(Lorraine Hansberry)

in association with
The Custom Made Theatre Company
(at the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House)

For more recent reviews click on the REVIEWS button above.

    FENCES      (1995)
    by August Wilson

    Mari Coates      SF WEEKLY       Multi Ethnic Theater's Fences does August Wilson's drama proud.
    The plays or August Wilson seem uniquely suited for community theaters, centering as they do on the experience of community itself.
    Fences, his Tony-winning drama about a family in the late 1950s, is no exception; and Multi Ethnic Theatre's production (directed by
    Lewis Campbell), now playing at the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House, serves both Wilson's splendid play and the
    company's declared purpose "to develop multicultural harmony and appreciation."   Fences takes place in 1957 and depicts the
    complex experience of the post-World War II years leading up to the civil rights movements of the '60s.  Troy Maxon (Julius Varnado) is
    a skirt-chasing garbage man who lives from paycheck to paycheck.   His life seems reasonably satisfying and orderly.  Weekdays he
    works,trading good-natured complaints with his best friend, Bono (Ronald Hatter). Fridays, he buys a half pint of gin and gets a little
    tipsy, to the annoyance of his loyal wife, Rose (Victoria Evans). But as ordinary and routine as his life seems, in his own way Troy is a-
    rebel. As the play opens, he has been summoned to an ominous-sounding "commission" because he dared ask, "Why is the white
    fellas driving and the coloreds lifting?"

    Director Campbell has emphasized  ensemble playing over individual fireworks and has succeeded in creating a mood that reaches
    out to include the audience.  As Troy. Julius Varnado gives a quietly powerful performance.  At times he bears an almost uncanny
    resemblance to James Earl Jones. who created the role on Broadway.   As Troy's pal Bono, Ronald Hatter keeps his performance
    understated, allowing the friendship to serve as a sounding board for Troy's enthusiasms and humor. Victoria Evans brings a as good
    as she gets. She and Varnado create a wholly believable relationship.  Fabian Herd brings energy and brightness as Gabriel, Troy's
    brain-damaged brother.  Ali Phelps is fine as Cory. Ditto Shawnte Alexander (alternating with Shoshanna Rosenzweig) as Raynell,
    Troy's 10-year-old daughter.  The set, handsome and serviceable, was designed by director Campbell.

    Winifred Mann    THE POTRERO VIEW        Questions of Trust, Loyalty Posed in MET 's Fences
    August Wilson's Fences, a moving, funny and thought-provoking slice of American family life in a bygone time and place,brought the
    packed preview audience to its feet in exuberant appreciation of the Multi Ethnic Theater production directed by Lewis Campbell at the
    Potrero Hill Neighborhood House.  The able cast assembled by director Campbell is headed by Julius Varnado as Troy Maxon, head of
    the family.  A middle-aged former Negro Leagues baseball star who never got over having been too old when the game finally began
    to be integrated, Maxon is now a garbage collector. His disappointment has long since turned to anger. Neither his neat little house,
    his loving wife, two sons who would like to love him, but can never even win his approval, nor the acceptance of his ever-loyal friend
    Bono - none of these has the power to assuage his rage.  In Maxon, Wilson has created a character with the complexity, the conflicttng
    passions, the stubborn willfulness almost of a King Lear. Unlike Lear, however, Maxon is gifted with the story-telling skill of his shaman
    African forbears, along with the earthy wit and humor of some modern day rap artists. It was noteworthy to observe that the large
    contingent of teenagers in the audience had no difficulty relating to the play, set in a time and place far removed from their own.
    Clearly Wilson's broad perspective and deep perceptions and this clear production can bridge the gap of time - as well as of age,
    gender and color, raising questions as he does, of the meaning of trust and the function of fences? To keep people in - or out?


    Winifred Mann       The Potrero View
    In The Trojan Women it was refreshing to see how naturally and gracefully actors with disabilities were integrated into the action.  With
    its themes of war, rape, slavery, lust and loss, the play maintains its poignancy even today.  The contemporary feel, fed by modern
    costumes and sound effects lasts throughout the production. In Afi-Tiiombe Kabon as Hecuba the pain of loss seems quite real.

    San Francisco Bay Guardian
    ... harrowing modern content...a compelling piece of theatre. Afi-Tiombe Kambon is strong and resonant as Hecuba, and Wanda
    Johnson achieves vivid emotional immediacy as Andromache.  Gabrielle Motarjemi is convincing as a shell-shocked priestess cradling
    a hand grenade as she waltzes to Strauss's Blue Danube

    by Ossie Davis

    Lysa Allman       SAN FRANCISCO BAY VIEW     Purlie Victorious truly is.
    Potrero Hill's Multi Ethnic Theatre (MET) is now presenting well-known author and playwright Ossie Davis' outrageous comedy,
    Purlie Victorious.  Set in the cotton plantation country of the Old South in the late 1950s, Purlie Victorious tells the story of an African
    American preacher who returns to his homeland to reclaim the property that should rightfully belong in his family. The twist is that he
    must outwit the old white plantation owner to do it.

    Starring ip the lead role of Purlie Victorious Judson is Rama Kellum gives a strong performance as the smart but crafty preacher,
    clearly demonstrating his theatrical affinity and experience as an actor.  Of his cast members, Kellum says they are a real ensemble
    that gives the audience the best shows they can. "We change gender and nationality in roles all the time.  We do theatre for the
    community and that is-what it is about."

    Lutiebelle Gussie Mae Jenkins, Purlie's primary accomplice, is portrayed by Tracy Ashford is hysterical as Lutiebelle, a young,
    somewhat socially uneducated but bright young girl who has been shuffled from White household to White household as a cook.
    Equally wonderful and believable in the role of O'l Cap'n Cotchipee, the old white plantation owner; is Andy Hamner portraying an old
    "Southern boy" who has deluded himself into believing that he is such a good "Master" that he is actually respected and revered by
    most Black folks - especially those who work for him.  Strong performances were also turned in by James Otis Brown and Topazz, who
    played Gitlow and Missy Hudson, as well as Janet Robinson in the role of Idella, The audience, which ranged from teenagers to elders,
    all representing various ethnic groups, responded favorably, laughing enthusiastically throughout the performance.

    Max Millard      THE SUN REPORTER        A Pearl of a Parody
    If you were clicking through the TV dial and you landed on this scene, what would be your reaction? An elderly white man wearing a
    Colonel Sanders outfit and brandishing a bullwhip, says to, his African American field worker: "My old Confederate father told me on
    his deathbed: 'Feed;' the Negroes first, after the horses.'  The worker, a Stepin Fetchit character who calls himself "a,
    Nigra two Ol' three hundred' percent," cheerfully responds;' "You the boss, boss," and to lift his master's spirits, sings "Old: Black Joe"
    on command.  To present such material on stage to a mainly black audience" and to get laughs, not gasps, is a neat balancing act. It
    works in Purlie Victorious, Ossie Davis' 1961 farce of the Old South, now in performance at Multi Ethnic Theater.

    Rama Kellum makes a superb Purlie. Elegant and dignified, with a pleasant baritone voice that lends itself to powerful, moving oratory,
    he has a talent for sermonizing that would make most real ministers envious.  He is well matched by Tracy Ashford  in the role of
    Lutiebelle, the blushing, innocent young girl who worships him.  Peggy Royster is another standout, in the role of Idella, the hilariously
    bad-tempered maid who intimidates the other principal white character, the captain's son Charlie. When she pushes him around,
    calling him "boy" and "son," and telling him to keep his mouth shut, he can only reply sheepishly, "Yes, Ma'am."  Rex Southard js well
    cast as Charlie, giving an appropriatcly wimpering performance, and even delivering a credible southern accent. James Otis Brown is
    memorable as Gitlow Judson, the smiling, shuffling, field hand who secretly plots to gain the upper hand, and Topazz makes a
    believable Missy Judson.

    Now in its fourth season at the location, the Multi Ethnic Theatre lives up to its name. The staff, the actors and the audience for this
    production were a good reflection of the racially mixed neighborhood, bringing people together for a,common goal. An organization
    like this deserves support.

    Community theatre is alive and well and living atop San Francisco's Potrero Hill. From its eyrie in the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House,
    with spectacular views of downtown and the East Bay, the Multi Ethnic Theatre group is carrying the banner for low-bud- get, seat-of-
    the-pants theatre.  But don't expect performances to match the meager resources.  MET's hard-working group of actors are capable
    of conjuring characterizations worthy of many a downtown stage.  Before a recent rehearsal of Purlie Victorious, Ossie Davis' '50s
    Deep South tale of so-called afIection between masters and servants, director Lewis Campbell gathered his team as if for a pre-game
    locker room p(r)ep talk. Nobody told Campbell he's just going out onto the practice field and not about to play in the Superbowl, as he
    hands out small custom-scribbled note pages to each cast member, suggests ges- tures, explains motivation, dashes to stage
    positions, even quotes Aristotle ("the first great theatre critic") amid talk of discovery and reversal, influence and resistance.  If,
    according to the play's Missy Judson (boldly portrayed by Topazz), "Life can be a lot of fun when ain't nobody lookin,"  things should
    really get going when the audience turns up.