Thomas Robert Simpson
Thomas Robert Simpson
Artistic Director of AfroSolo Theatre Company
Thomas Robert Simpson is an award-winning actor, director, producer, and writer. He is the founder and artistic director of the award-winning AfroSolo Theatre Company, celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary this year. Through solo plays such as, "Still Heading fo’ da’ Promised Land," "There is No Hatred Here," "COURAGE UNDER FIRE: The Story of Elroy," and others, Thomas focuses on giving an authentic voice to the black male experience. In chronicling these stories and the lives portrayed, he endeavors to counter the stereotyped depiction these men often receive.
As part of the twenty-fifth AfroSolo Arts Festival, Simpson is producing an event entitled "Black Men Standing in The Light." He will be working with men who have spent time in jail or prisons to create solo work that tells the story of their lives. In addition to teaching them performance skills, they will gain writing skills, speaking skills, skills around conflict resolution, skills related to collaborating with others, anger management, time management, delayed gratification, leadership skills along with others. A greater goal is to help the participants return and make positives contributions to their communities.
Since 1994 (under his tutelage) AfroSolo has presented the acclaimed AfroSolo Arts Festival. The Festival is celebrating its 25th annually manifestation this season. Simpson employs the Festival as a vehicle, to highlight and elevate Black art and culture through solo performances and the visual and literary arts.
Over the years he has showcased celebrity artists such as the award-winning and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Mavis Staples, the late actor Ruby Dee, comedian and political activist Dick Gregory, beloved teacher, poet and social activist June Jordan, sensational black gospel singer Emmit Powell among others. He has also presented over 200 hundreds of local theatre, dance, visual artists and musicians. For more info on the 25th annual AfroSolo Arts Festival, visit afrosolo.org.
Simpson won a coveted Bay Area Jefferson Award for Public Service in 2006. In 2009 he was awarded a Certificate of Honor from the San Francisco Board of Supervisor. Over the years has received awards and recognition from California Legislators, San Francisco AIDS Foundation’s Black Brothers Esteem Program, The Reggie Williams Achievement Award, the Oakland Supper Club, to name a few. Since 2006, Simpson has used AfroSolo’s Community Engagement program to focus on essential issues in the black community, such as health, justice, and education. www.afrosolo.org.