Justin Emeka ’95

  • Associate Professor of Theater and Africana Studies

Areas of Study


  • BA, Oberlin College, 1995
  • MA, University of Washington, 2005


Justin Emeka is a director, actor, writer, and Capoeirista who is recognized for his ability to integrate unique cultural traditions within classical and contemporary theater. He is jointly appointed in the departments of Africana Studies and Theater and teaches courses in acting and directing, as well as started one of the first Capoeira Angola college programs in the country that integrates physical and musical training in Capoeira with academic research.

On Oberlin’s main stage he directed the Bluest Eye, Wedding Band; Macbeth, Follow Me to Nellie’s, The Compromise, and Death of a Salesman featuring Avery Brooks. At Classical Theater of Harlem in New York he directed A Midsummer Nights Dream and Romeo n Juliet; at Karamu House in Cleveland he directed Julius X and Detroit ‘67; at Intiman Theater in Seattle, he directed Stickfly; at Oberlin Summer Theater Festival (OSTF) he directed A Raisin in the Sun and starred in Crumbs from the Table of Joy

Most recently, he directed Dominique Morisseau’s Sunset Baby, presented at Dobama Theatre in Cleveland Heights.

Working with the Mayor’s Office of Seattle and the Seattle Theater Group, he created a theatrical commemoration of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, Sankofa Theater, involving original poetry, dance, and drama that included more than 100 performers.

Emeka is a member of SDC and Actors Equity. He is also the author of a chapter entitled “Seeing Shakespeare through Brown Eyes” in the book Black Acting Methods: Critical Approaches.

Fall 2024

Capoeira Angola I — AAST 161
Capoeira Angola I — DANC 161
Directing I — THEA 208


Justin Emeka Directs at Karamu House

September 27, 2019

Associate Professor of Theater and Africana Studies Justin Emeka directed a production of Paradise Blue by Dominique Morisseau at Karamu House in Cleveland, which runs September 27-October 20.

Justin Emeka Directs Detroit ’67

February 9, 2016

Detroit ’67, a play directed by Assistant Professor of Theater and Africana Studies Justin Emeka ’95, opened at Karamu House in Cleveland, Ohio, February 5. The play runs through Sunday, February 28. Tickets are $37 for adults, $32 for those 62 and older, and $15 for children 6 and younger and college students with valid ID.

Winner of the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History, Detroit ’67 explores the lives of those affected by the 1967 Detroit uprisings. The music of Motown provides the soundtrack for this story of family, love, struggle, and perseverance. The pay is written by Dominique Morisseau, a rising American playwright. Watch the trailer for the play on vimeo.

Justin Emeka Takes Part in SDC Foundation One-on-One Conversation

November 6, 2015

Assistant Professor of Theater Justin Emeka ’95 took part in a Stage Directors and Choreographers (SDC) Foundation One-on-One Conversation on November 5 at the National Opera Center Recital Hall. Emeka exchanged ideas about process, aesthetics, and how identity shapes art with director, performer, and writer Ruben Santiago-Hudson.

For more information, see this webpage.


‘Rainbow’ Connections

April 21, 2023

Amara Granderson’s visions of Broadway came into focus on the stages of Oberlin.

Persistence, Practice, and Determination

February 2, 2021

Instead of an alarm clock, the sounds of Sergei Prokofiev and Chaka Khan would waft through Caylen Bryant’s childhood home every Saturday morning. Those early days served as inspiration for the jazz bass performance and Africana Studies major. After graduating from Oberlin in 2017, Bryant went on to perfect her own sound, and head a music program handed down to her by author and musician James McBride ’79.