Winner of the 2022 Blue Ink Award for playwriting. Spanning decades, this heartrending play explores the complex relationship between three generations of women: Loretta Reaper, a middle-aged Black woman, her grown spitfire daughter, Nell, and her starry-eyed granddaughter Tamar. Raised in the church, all three ladies cut a mean cloth while taking us on a riveting journey through time, exhuming long-buried family secrets, and creating gospel fire in the process.

MONDAY, AUGUST 15 @ 7:00 PM

Join us for a powerful, in-person reading. The run time is approximately 1 hour & 45 minutes, including intermission.

Read the Backstage Guide or download the pdf.

Buy tickets here or call (773) 654-3103. There is limited seating. THIS READING WILL SELL OUT! Send all inquiries to BoxOffice@AmericanBluesTheater.com.

CREATIVE TEAM

MARDEE BENNETT he/him (Playwright) is a playwright, screenwriter, and actor based in New York. With a sharp ear for dialogue, Mardee’s work explores the collective triumphs of Black people in America. His comedy Cane was a 2021 Blue Ink Award Finalist. The Reapers on Woodbrook Avenue was a finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference and the Seven Devils Playwrights Conference. Other full-length titles include LorettaThe NerveIn the Ramble, and A Pleasant Place to Be. His work has been developed at Center Stage, National Black Theatre, Signature Theatre, and Gloucester Stage Company. He will premier his one-man show Men I’ve Known in April 2023. A proud Baltimore hometown boy, he trained at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Mardee is represented by A3 Artists Agency.

MANNY BUCKLEY he/him (Director) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater. He is a Chicago-based director, actor, playwright and teaching artist. Blues credits include FencesIt’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!Six CornersLooking Over the President’s Shoulder (Jeff Award Nomination-Best Solo Performance), and Dutchman/TRANSit (Black Theatre Alliance Award Nomination). Manny toured nationally as “Satchel Paige” in the original production of The Satchel Paige Story, and appeared in The Father (Helen Hayes Award Nomination) at Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C. He originated the role of “Carson” in Hit the Wall, which sold out extensions in Steppenwolf’s Garage Rep. Select Chicago credits include The Brothers Size1984, and Of Mice and Men (Steppenwolf); Dorian (House Theater); and Love’s Labor’s Lost (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre). Mr. Buckley is the recipient of a Black Theatre Alliance, and Black Excellence Award. He most recently directed Kingdom, an audio drama, with Broken Nose Theatre.

MIKAYLA BOYD she/her (Tamar) is thrilled to be a part of this reading. She is a Chicago-based dancer, actor, writer. She is a junior at the Latin School of Chicago and a Flag Girl on the South Shore Drill Team. Her previous performances include: Voice of Good Hope (City Lit Theatre), American Blues #ENOUGH Showcase 2021, Metamorphoses (Latin School of Chicago), Emma’s Child (City Lit Theatre), Spike Heels (Latin School of Chicago), American Blues #ENOUGH Showcase 2022, American Blues Youth Playwright Showcase ‘21/‘22, On Fred Gray Ave (City Lit Theatre) as well as stage managing the Winter Dance Company Recital and Adv. Acting Company Production of Lawrence and Holloman at her school. She enjoys the arts, studying medicine/indigenous cultures, and plans to attend university in following years.

ROBERT BREULER he/him (Rex) – is a member of Actors Equity Association and the Steppenwolf acting ensemble where he has performed some 50 roles since 1986. He is the President of Perennial Theatre Chicago, dedicated to mining our Lifetimes of Experience to share with the greater community. Upcoming he will be playing Hercule Poirot with the SAG-Aftra Senior Radio Players (October 22) featuring his wife and creative partner Suzanne Petri, an Ensemble member of American Blues.

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KRISTIN E. ELLIS she/her (Nell Reaper & Tamar Reaper) – is a passionate storyteller and teaching artist. Kristin wrote and performed her one woman show “I Don’t Trust It” (solo series: MPAACT Theatre) Kristin recently closed PIPELINE (Next Act Theatre). Notable credits: PARADISE BLUE (Black Theatre Alliance Award for Best Featured Actress, TimeLine Theatre). TRAITOR (A Red Orchid Theatre. Dir. Michael Shannon). WHAT I LEARNED IN PARIS (Black Theatre Alliance Award nomination for Best Featured Actress, Congo Square Theatre), THE INSIDE (Black Excellence Award nomination for Best Theatre Actress, MPAACT Theatre). Regional credits: Writers Theatre, National Black Theatre, McCarter Theatre & others. Kristin’s TV credits include: The 4400, The Chi, & others. With a host of independent films (Black Harvest Film Festival), commercial work, and Voice Overs. BFA (Theatre School-DePaul). Kristin is represented by Stewart Talent. She thanks God for every opportunity. For more visit IamKristinEllis.com.

LUCAS LOOCH JOHNSON he/him (Ronald Johnson & Corey Johnson Reaper) is a French/ American actor, drummer, who holds a BFA from The Chicago College of Performing Arts. He recently made his American Blues Theater debut on August Wilson’s Fences (Lyons & Cory u/s). Other past projects include: Theatre- Cruel Intentions (Ronald), Hundred Days (Drummer/Self), Peter and the Starcatcher (Prentis), Murdering Macbeth (Doctor). Film- Carvana (ArtClass), Sour Patch Kids (York Productions), The Big Leap (FOX) Lacy’s Christmas Do-Over (Golan Productions), Games for Children (M&C Productions), and Write B!tch (Snack Shack Productions). He’d like to thank his family and friends here and overseas for the endless support. Spread Love. DDO Artists Agency. @LucasLoochJohnson

JOSLYN JONES she/her (Loretta Reaper) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. Credits include Flyin’ West (American Blues Theater) Steel Magnolias (Theatre at the Center); Intimate Apparel (Theatre Squared); ANDROMEDA (Theatre Squared); The Project(s) (American Theater Company) Jeff Nomination, Best Production; The Delany Sisters: Having Our Say – The First Hundred Years (Fleetwood Jourdain Theatre); Once On This Island (Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre); 12 Ophelias (Trap Door Theatre); Weekend (TimeLine Theatre), Bourbon At The Border (Eclipse Theatre) BTAA Nomination, Featured Actress; Escape (Live Bait Theatre); Flyin’ West and RAISIN (Court Theatre), Bee-Luther-Hatchee (The University Of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign); Fabulation: Or, The Re-Education of Undine (Next Theatre); Relevant Hearsay (MPACCT: Theater on the Lake); Bee-Luther-Hatchee and Smokey Joe’s Café (Open Door Theater); Meshuggah Nuns! (Chicago Jewish Theatre); The Kurt Weil Revue: Songs of Darkness and Light (Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre) Jeff Nomination, Best Musical Production; To Kill A Mockingbird (Metropolis Performing Arts Centre); 2002 Class of The School at Steppenwolf. She has understudied: Having Our Say and Crumbs From The Table of Joy (Goodman Theatre);  Film: Cherry, directed by the Russo Brothers with Tom Holland as her scene partner; Television: South Side-Mrs. Odom (HBO Max); Chicago PD (NBC). Joslyn is a proud member of Actors Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA. linktr.ee/JoslynJones

We wish to express our gratitude to the Performers’ Unions (Actors’ Equity Association, American Guild of Musical Artists, American Guild of Variety Artists, and SAG/AFTRA) through Theatre Authority, Inc. for their cooperation in permitting the artists to appear on this program.

Learn more about the 2022 Blue Ink Award winners.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Chicago Urban League – works to achieve equity for Black families and communities through social and economic empowerment.

South Side Community Reparations Coalition – is a community-based assessment and planning project; founded and housed in the Chicago Urban League’s Research and Policy Center. Our main focus is aiding residents in collectively understanding and prioritizing reparation strategies to craft recommendations that repair and restore Black communities on the South Side of Chicago.

Young Chicago Authors – cultivates artistic development, social and emotional learning, and academic success in Chicago’s youth.

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