BUFFALO, N.Y. — ​A historic Buffalo theatre is opening up its doors again after some tough times and pushing through the pandemic.

On Friday, October 15, the Ujima Theatre Company held the premiere of “American Son,” a gripping tale of race and privilege. It’s the first in-person show since moving to its new location at 429 Plymouth Avenue and since the passing of Founder Lorna C. Hill.

Hill worked for more than 40 years to bring productions from the traditions of other people of color to Western New York. Staff members say it’s a bittersweet moment to return without her, but moving forward with the last season she programmed is pivotal in honoring her memory.

“Ujima means collective works and responsibility, so once she passed we all came together as a company and really sat down and said, what can we do to make sure that we don’t lose this space,” Brian Brown, Ujima Theatre Company association managing director, said.

The play is also the directorial debut of Buffalo-born Aaron Mays. His career has taken him far from home, living and working in Chicago, and finding success off Broadway as an assistant director. He says this moment is a dream come true because sometimes you don’t get a chance to share your art in your hometown.

“I used to take the Number 3 bus to go to work by 3:30 or 4 or take the 26 to go back home,” Mays said. “It’s this beautiful montage of me as a young boy thinking about what I wanted to be until now, bringing something back home.”

“American Son” plays this Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m.