Ubuntu Theatre

Oakland, California, USA


Ubuntu Theatre is the first premiere site adaptable container theatre in the United States. It is the new home for the internationally acclaimed Ubuntu Theatre based in Oakland, California. The new theatre is helping to establish Oakland to become a cultural center in the United States – Creating a Communal Commons for the 21st Century.

Ubuntu is a Zulu proverb that most closely translates to “I am because we are”.  Ubuntu Theater is a unique 100 seat site adaptable container structure, which is designed to create exquisite theatrical experiences, to inspire compassion and forge bonds across socio-economic and racial divides. It is designed with a strong social intent – addressing one of the fundamental questions facing America today: How do we forge solidarity in an increasingly isolating, polarizing and segregated socio-political and cultural landscape?

The theatre structure is designed as a flexible structure that can adapt and locate on key urban sites that are well located for community access and cultural impact. These sites are in transition and may be available for only a few years before being developed. This is a revolutionary strategy that can both bring the cost of theatre down, and locate this important cultural asset in a central location that is visible and available to a broad cross-section of the transit-accessible center city.

The Ubuntu Theatre’s radical and practical design was guided by the theatre company’s goal of “Reinventing Theater for A New America”. The goal focused on 5 main areas of cultural impact:

People— Transcending the forces that segregate us by celebrating traditionally marginalized and underserved communities onstage, behind-the-scenes and in the audience.

Place—Revolutionizing the relationship between Art and Space by activating under-utilized sites for ‘no-rent’ fees in order to provide high-quality art for low-cost admission.

Culture— Building a space of mutual understanding and respect, where everyone’s life experiences are valued and seen as a necessary part of realizing the greater whole.

Change – Employing Theater and the arts to inspire society at large to further enact the value of Ubuntu—‘I am because we are’—and bind together a fraying social fabric.

Legacy – Creating a unique icon and enduring internationally acclaimed premiere Theater in Oakland, California that epitomizes artistic excellence, community building, social justice and stays true to the community it serves.

JRDV Urban International