Co-Founder and Artistic director of Watts Village Theater Company
Lynn Manning dies
Lynn Manning, the co-founder and artistic director of the Watts Village Theater Company died Monday. He was 60 years old.
Manning was true to the richly textured talent of the Watts communing. He was an award-winning poet, playwright and actor who rose to inspirational heights after being blinded by a gunshot at age 23, Manning worked for decades to provide theater and arts education to the communities of Watts and South Los Angeles.
“Lynn was an inspiration not only to his family, but to friends and perfect strangers,” said his sister Dorothy Raybon. “We all admire his strength and determination. As an athlete, artist, poet, musician and activist for the underserved you could count on him to give all he had, whether it was his time, talent, knowledge or money. He was there. He was a genius and a survivor, who was deeply loved by all.”
After he was shot and blinded by a stranger while in a Hollywood bar, Manning who was a visual artist redirected his artistic expression to the written word. He was a winner, never waddled in self pity but rather continued his journey contributing to society making a difference in the lives of youth and adults alike.
Manning, was also a former world champion in Blind Judo.
He was recognized by President Barack Obama just two weeks ago at a White House celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to the WVTC.
At the time of his passing, Manning was assisting the company in preparation for the upcoming production of “Riot/Rebellion” beginning Aug. 14, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Watts Rebellion.
“Lynn had a radiant passion and talent for theater,” according to a statement from the WVTC board. “The WVTC community is grieving with deep sorrow. For some time, WVTC has been working with Lynn through this difficult period to ensure that we continue his legacy. Los Angeles has lost a gem and one of Watts’ finest.”
Watts Village Theater Company/WVTC is a multicultural urban company that seeks to inspire its community with an appreciation of all cultures through new works about contemporary social issues.
WVTC was cofounded by Artistic Director Lynn Manning and Quentin Drew, both stakeholders in the Watts community. Now in its 15th year, WVTC remains the only independent professional theatre company in Watts, CA.
Since its founding, WVTC has received numerous awards including the 2010 John Anson Ford Human Relations Award.
On the cutting edge of cultural depictions of race relations, socio-political tensions and historical adaptations, WVTC is currently focusing on multiple projects that highlight its core mission: To bring powerful stories to the stage in a new and iconoclastic way.
WVTC’s main annual event is its summer festival connecting arts with public transportation in partnership with the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) titled “Meet Me @Metro”