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Hallwalls comes to rescue of Ujima Theatre

Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center has come to the rescue of Ujima Theatre, whose upcoming production of “Topdog/Underdog” was threatened by a devastating roof leak.

There was a sense of relief among the frazzled Ujima staff Thursday when the news came that Hallwalls will host the full run of “Topdog/Underdog,” Suzan-Lori Parks’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play about race and identity in urban America.

The opening of the production has been pushed back to Saturday night, and the run will continue in Hallwalls’ cinema space at 341 Delaware Ave. through March 15.

The building at 545 Elmwood Ave. that houses TheatreLoft, home to the Ujima Theatre company, as well as the Thirsty Buffalo bar and restaurant, incurred a major roof leak because of snow buildup on its obsolete roof. According to Rahwa Ghirmatzion, Ujima’s executive director, water is leaking into the second-floor theater’s lighting booth and parts of the ceiling in the main space have started to crumble.

After Ujima put out the word about the crisis on Facebook and Twitter 48 hours ahead of the planned opening Friday night, Ghirmatzion said, responses flooded in from across the cultural community.

“I am … humbled by so much outpouring of support from the amazing Buffalo community. When in need, we rise to the occasion,” Ghirmatzion wrote in a Facebook post. “We promise this will not be the end of Ujima.”

Said Hallwalls Executive Director Edmund Cardoni: “The show must go on.”


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