Theatre For Transformation is a homegrown Lancaster organization led by the Artistic Director, Ismail Smith-Wade-El (a paid position) and a volunteer Board of Directors.
Katherine Filer – Chair
Shauna Murry – Treasurer
Dr. Rita Smith Wade–El
Holly Williams – Secretary
To perform African American stories that inspire learning and racial harmony amongst diverse audiences.
A community that embraces our humanity and celebrates diversity.
Theatre for Transformation is a not-for-profit company that interacts through workshops, plays and community involvement projects. There is a yearly main stage production that premiers in Lancaster and a quarterly, "Sweeter the Berry" performane showcase staged at various venues throughout Lancaster. New this year is the Engage U! Scholastic Outreach Program that consists of theatre skills and storytelling workshops. Additionally, TfT is continuing the Created Equal Film and Dialog Series, which originated with a grant from The National Endowment for the Humanities and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Through the employ of the social justice philosophy, "Theatre ART as activism", TfT attempts to influence diverse audiences to broaden and re-shape how we understand our history and local community, while ultimately contributing to our effort to consciously heal.
Dr. Amanda Kemp envisioned Theatre for Transformation while attending a spiritual retreat, starting the company in 2007. By 2010, a Board of Directors was enlisted and TfT incorporated, receiving tax exempt status in 2011.
2007 Show Me the Franklins
2009 Sister Friends
2012 To Cross an Ocean Four Centuries Long
2013 Emancipation Sweet
Up until this point, all have been written by Dr. Amanda Kemp.
A leadership change at the start of 2014 brought with it the new Artistic Director, the expansion of programming, enhanced visibility and an increased community presence. Theatre for Transformation will expand its productions to include alternative playwrights.
Stay in touch - more change is coming!
Ismail Smith-Wade-El, Artistic Director, has worked with Theatre for Transformation in various capacities since 2012, including acting as new play dramaturg for Emancipation Sweet, collaborating on Sweeter The Berry performance showcases, and acting as production manager for TfT's first production as a part of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. He's excited to take the reins of Theatre for Transformation and looks forward to engaging his community with the most compelling stories of African American life and history.
Smith is a lifelong devotee of the theatre, from youth theatre education programs at the Fulton Opera House to working with renowned Hong Kong director Tang Shu-wing on a production of Nobel Laureate Gao Xingjian's, The Other Shore. A Carnegie Mellon alumnus specializing in dramaturgy and anthropology, Smith has produced research on the state of nationally-funded theatre worldwide, as well as historical research on the New Deal's Federal Theatre Project.
He believes deeply in the concept of "scholar-activism" and gives time not devoted to Theatre for Transformation to campaigning against human trafficking, racial injustice, and the devaluation of the artistic endeavor.