Our History

The Aldridge Repertory Theatre (ART), was organized on November 3, 1984 when a group of seven adults met to rehearse a stage production to be presented the following February. Happy Ending, a one-act play by Douglas Turner Ward, was the premiere presentation. The event was held at the Hulsey Recital Hall on the campus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) during its Student Government Association’s observance of Black History Month.

 The play, directed by Yvette Jones-Smedley, included in its performance ensemble, Angela Crenshaw, Marva Douglas, Thom Gossom and Erich McMillan-McCall.

Heretofore, these artists had endeavored to offer their individual skills to vest pockets of the community. However, realizing that they could best serve the community as a group, reach a larger audience and offer a varied program, they joined together with the sole purpose of opening new vistas for the black artist by establishing a state and regionally recognized performing arts center which would showcase the talents and skills of a new multi-ethnic ensemble of artists and craftsmen.

The ensuing months were spent developing a mode of operation for the performing ensemble. The creation of a Constitution and By-Laws to govern the organization along with the Articles of Incorporation would be the foundation of the future of the Aldridge Repertory Theatre, Inc.

In May, 1985, ART joined forces with the Cultural Arts Committee (CAC) of the Sixth Avenue Baptist Church. The arrangement offered ART a financial base and a permanent rehearsal and performance space. As the CAC sought to establish its position as a major presenter of the arts and to expand its scope to include the theatre arts in its programming, the committee reorganized and incorporated as the Academy of Fine Arts (AFA).

By the Fall of 1987, the status of ART and the AFA changed from one of season support to project support. The new arrangement allowed ART the opportunity to serve as a production company for The Amen Corner by James Baldwin, sponsored by the Birmingham Museum of Art. The performances ran for two weekends: the last weekend in February and the first weekend in March of 1988. Performances were held at the museum.

This enterprise placed ART back in touch with its original purpose and objectives. The renewed interest and support ART received from the artists and the patrons in its efforts to serve the community were overwhelming. By the Fall of 1988, with the aid of interested citizens of Birmingham, ART was finally able to file its Articles of Incorporation which had been drawn up in 1985. The newly incorporated Aldridge Repertory Theatre, Inc. was at last prepared to officially address the critical need for an established theatrical/cultural arts center that would showcase minority talent. Future showcases will spotlight musically and dramatically talented persons from the city, state and the southeastern region. ART 2 continues to provide vehicles that motivate and encourage artists to develop their talents and skills while sharing their gifts with the audiences of Alabama as we MAKE ART HAPPEN HERE!