About the Theatre

As one of the oldest continuously producing Black theatres in the nation, the Department of Africana Studies' Rites and Reason Theatre is dedicated to giving voice to the diverse cultural expressions of the New World. Rites and Reason uses its unique Research-to-Performance Method (RPM) to develop new creative works.

Rites and Reason was founded in September 1970 by Professor George Houston Bass and became a formal component of the then Program in Afro-American Studies in 1975. Born out of the Black Arts Movement and student protests at Brown University, Rites and Reason evolved into a Research-to-Performance Method theatre. The RPM nourishes organic diversity and collaborative creativity.

Throughout its history, Rites and Reason has developed works by undergraduate and graduate students and professional playwrights who have gone on to national acclaim. In recent years, Rites and Reason has developed and produced student plays about foot binding in ancient China and the conscription of Jewish boys into the Russian Czarist Army in the 1830s.

The Mission

The Department of Africana Studies' Rites and Reason Theatre’s mission is to develop new creative works which analyze and articulate the phenomenal and universal odyssey of the African Diaspora. Through this commitment, Rites and Reason has developed creative works that have explored the experiences and expressions of peoples and cultures from across the world.

The Research-to-Performance Method (RPM)

The Research-to-Performance Method (RPM) is Rites and Reason's signature method. RPM teams consisting of scholars, writers and community persons collaborate in creating and developing significant new works. A magical and wonderful thing happens when scholars become artists and artists become scholars within the RPM process.







The Me-We is the Rites and Reason logo. The upper totem represents the mind, intelligence and reason. The lower totem represents the mask, performance and rites.


Elmo Terry-Morgan, Artistic Director 
Karen Allen Baxter, Managing Director 
Alonzo T. Jones, Technical Director 
Kathleen Moyer, Production Manager