Dr. Vernell A. Lillie

(Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) – Artistic Director/Theater Producer, Lecturer, Writer [inducted 2003]

Vernell A. Lillie is an artistic director, producer of theater drama, lecturer and writer.  She serves aw Assistant Professor in the Department of Africana Studies at the University of Pittsburgh.  Her vita is long and features experiences in the area of psychodrama, theater teaching, ancient Egyptian history, and a myriad of artistic endeavors.

Dr. Lillie holds a doctoral and masters degree from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh.  Her undergraduate studies in drama and speech took place at Dillard University in New Orleans.  She has further graduate study in Egyptology with Asa Hilliard of Georgia State; and English Texas State Certification for Teaching at Texas Southern University.  Additionally, she has a long, diversified list of training experiences.

In 1974, she founded the Kuntu Repertory Theatre for the purpose of presenting the works of Rob Penny (Playwright-in-Residence) and other African American writers.  Its initial intent was the examination of Black life from a sociopolitical-historical perspective, and to use the theater to educate, entertain and move both performers and audiences to social action.  Later, Kuntu broadened its scope to provide an arena for the black writer to develop a supportive, intellectually stimulating environment for cultural reflections, and to enable its members to work as a group for cultural and social development of the community.  Since 1974, the Kuntu Repertory Theatre has sponsored many outstanding activities to give visibility to the African American presence at the University of Pittsburgh and to involve diverse groups in examining the black experience in America and throughout the world.

Among Dr. Lillie’s artistic achievements include over 80 productions such as: The Evolution of Jazz, in Edinburgh, Scotland; direction of Little Willie Jones and Profiles in Black.  She has produced three National Black Films and Filmmakers Festivals with Sears, Roebuck and Company, and the Afro-American Museum of Philadelphia.  Her work as a workshop leader covers an impressive range of subjects: psychodrama approaches to training, Afro-American literature, and arts education, visual and performing arts for the deaf, and cross cultural relationships.

Her awards and professional affiliations substantiate Dr. Vernell Lillie’s numerous and varied activities.