Ujima is a Swahili word meaning “collective work and responsibility”
and it is from this tenet that we, Ujima Company, Inc., derive our purpose.
Ujima Company Inc. (UCI) is a multi-ethnic and multicultural professional theatre whose primary purpose is the preservation, perpetuation and performance of African American theatre by providing working opportunities for established artists and training experience for aspiring artists.
We operate as a collective membership organization made up of actors, theatre technicians, theatre arts administrators, choreographers, playwrights, teachers, musicians and vocalists. All work is selected or designed to exploit Ujima’s unique ability to work together, take responsibility for each other, and create that special magic which flows from love and dedication to the work, the collective and the audience. Ujima Company Inc. intends to educate as well as to entertain through work which is reflective of its responsibility and its caring for its community. Ujima is dedicated to social justice – the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled including the rights to life and liberty; freedom of expression; equality before the law; economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to participate in culture, the right to food, the right to work, the right to health, and the right to education.
The core work of the organization has four focus areas:
producing and performing plays, particularly those that are created to reflect the lives of African Americans and that provide employment opportunities for member and local artists.
presenting the work of new artists and performing arts groups.
providing young people with workshops and experiential training in theatre.
serving as a resource to persons, community agencies, and institutions serving non-violence, cultural diversity, at-risk youth and positive values necessary for the development of the community.
Ujima continues to use theatre to build the
shape and reflect our
lives; participate in civic conversations; and serve
as a vehicle for social change.
UJIMA HISTORY 1978 - 2019
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Ujima Company at School 77
Ujima Company, Inc. is comfortably settled in our new home at the old School 77 on Buffalo’s West Side and now we look forward to many seasons of presenting theatre that serves our immediate neighborhood and the greater Western New York community. Our vision to participate in community building through the production of outstanding quality theatre, featuring the narratives of the unheard, under-represented, and under-served, especially people of color and those experiencing poverty.
Ujima uses theatre as a tool to shape and reflect our lives. How do we participate in civic conversations? How can we serve as a vehicle for social change? How can we address equity and reconciliation? We provide affordable professional theatre productions and training opportunities for those who have limited access to participation in the arts. We provide those with greater assets the same opportunity with the expectation that their understanding of traditionally under-represented communities will grow. We continue to network with like-minded artists across the country to build our awareness of national conditions and raise the voices of those that are less commonly heard in the main stream.
We have produced plays based on the needs and requests of the community with themes including war, religion, women in gangs, and genocide. We utilize theatre as a tool to build understanding of our world; the ways in which people adapt and survive; how they resist oppression and manifest resilience. We also have fun. All stories, no matter how dire, are uplifting, honest themes featuring plenty of laughter, music, and dance.
Our priorities include:
Producing and performing theatre that reflects the lives of African Americans, people of color, and marginalized communities
Providing employment opportunities for artists,
Presenting the work of new artists and performing arts groups,
Providing young people with experiential training in theatre, and
Serving as a resource to support positive values necessary for the development of the beloved community.
Ujima continues to use theatre as a tool that addresses how the arts shape and reflect our lives; how they participate in civic conversations; and how they serve as a vehicle for social change. We do this by providing opportunities for those that are underrepresented and underserved.
This new location will present many opportunities for Ujima to reconnect to our vision for collective work and responsibility as we embrace the west side neighborhood.
What to expect with Ujima’s new home at School 77:
Professional theatre that supports positive values necessary for the development of the beloved community
Focus on theatre that reflects the lives of African Americans, people of color, and marginalized communities
A reboot of The Dunbar Project, our theatre training program for youth
The presentation of works by new artists and performing arts groups
A new membership program for our neighbors in the 14213, 14201, and 14202 zip codes, which will include their voice in the programming we provide, and benefits for participation
Continued leadership with our partners in advocacy for a socially just community
Employment opportunities for local artists
With our 41st season, we return to offering 3-5 productions annually and hosting other performance groups in our spaces.