By Sean Yoes
AFRO Baltimore Editor
Last year, Arena Players, the oldest continually running Black community theater company in America celebrated its 66th anniversary.
Through good times and lean times, Arena has proven to be one of Black Baltimore’s most resilient institutions.
The late Sam Wilson, founder of The Arena Players. The community theater, which celebrated it’s 66th anniversary last year, was recently damaged by a fire on Christmas Eve. (Courtesy Photo)
However, a recent fire on Christmas Eve, at the McCulloh St. playhouse has some believing Arena is no more. But, to paraphrase the great American storyteller Mark Twain, reports of Arena’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, Arena is open despite the fire according to Larry Young, the chair of the theater’s board of directors.
“There was a fire that caused some serious damage to the right side of our building,” said Young in a statement.
“The excellent response by the fire department and other emergency helpers reduced our damages considerably, with the biggest problem being water damage to the right portion of the building,” added Young, host of the popular “Larry Young Morning Show,” on WOLB. Although Arena is open for business, the fire has caused some financial peril for the theater, which historically has struggled to keep the doors open, despite world class theatrical productions over the years.
“We expect our insurance will help us with 80 percent of our repairs,” Young said.
“We are optimistic that the theater portion will be operational by month’s end. We would welcome donations to assist us in our renovations.”