Ekundayo Bandele, with support from an engaged board that Michael de Caetani chaired, founded Hattiloo Theatre in 2006, as 501(c)3, non-profit organization. It is named in honor of Ekundayo’s two daughters: Hatshepsut (Hatti) Bandele, and Oluremi (Loo) Bandele. The theatre opened on September 22, 2006 in a small store-front in the Edge District of Memphis, TN.
After eight years operating with a three-person staff, staging eight productions each season, in June 2014, following a $4.3M capital campaign, Hattiloo moved from its 75-seat theatre to a newly-constructed facility, debt free, and established a $500K endowment. A second campaign in 2016 funded the construction of a new Development Center. Also, in 2016, Hattiloo entered into a $1/year lease with the City of Memphis and converted an 8,000 square foot head-start school into the Hattiloo Technical Theatre Center. In 2017, the theatre purchased and opened HattiHouse – a residential space for guest artists and interns.
As the only freestanding Black repertory theatre in five surrounding states, Hattiloo has developed a strong regional audience (32% in 2015). Hattiloo is known for offering high-quality, free programming and performances staged throughout the city, engaging over 5,000 people each year. The evolution of its artistic vision and programming, and the success of its business model has made Hattiloo a sought-after resource nationwide.